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Giants make more moves to shore up

Giants make more moves

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants obtained an infielder Saturday, but it wasn't the starting third baseman that has been rumored for months.

Instead, they added to their already sizable contingent of potential utilitymen by claiming Jose Castillo on waivers from the Florida Marlins.

Although Rich Aurilia, Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez can play more than one position, manager Bruce Bochy believed that the Giants needed more depth and flexibility, particularly with Frandsen (left Achilles tendinitis) and second baseman Ray Durham (left hamstring) ailing. Durham was scratched from Saturday's lineup and has been sidelined since playing all nine innings on Wednesday against the Chicago Cubs.

"We're a little thin," Bochy said. "He [Castillo] is a guy who helps cover us."

Director of player personnel Bobby Evans indicated that Castillo, 27, would have intrigued the Giants even if Frandsen and Durham were at full health. "The opportunity to increase the inventory of guys who can help us at a variety of positions adds value," Evans said.

Evans added that the Giants will try Castillo at third base, which appears to belong to Aurilia if Dan Ortmeier performs well enough in the remaining exhibitions to claim the first-base job. Castillo, who spent the previous four seasons with Pittsburgh, has appeared in 388 Major League games at second base and only 34 at third. But 27 of those were starts last year, compared to 13 at second base and seven at shortstop.

Castillo, who was released by Pittsburgh last Dec. 10 and signed by Florida as a free agent on Dec. 24, also is a low-risk acquisition. The .256 lifetime hitter signed a split contract that pays him the economical sum of $650,000 at the Major League level, and he has at least one Minor League option remaining.

For what it's worth, Castillo hit .384 during the offseason to win the Venezuelan Winter League batting title for Caracas. He finished second in the league's Most Valuable Player voting to Giants catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, who amassed 15 homers and 47 RBIs in 53 games for Caribes.

A possible logjam of infielders looms for the Giants. Bochy said that Durham could return to the lineup in Sunday's exhibition against Texas. Castillo is expected to arrive in time for Sunday's game. Frandsen took batting and fielding practice Saturday and could be ready to play by Monday. Moreover, Velez stepped in for Durham and went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, including a bases-loaded triple in the fourth inning, to lead the Giants past the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-1.

Velez's inability to master a defensive position thus far appears to be the only obstacle between him and a regular job in the Majors. Evans said he thought Velez's best spot is second base, but that's where Durham resides and where Frandsen feels most comfortable. Insiders have suggested that third base could be the answer, but Velez, who's bating .323, committed an awkward error there on Thursday.

Asked whether he ever considered leaving Velez in the lineup, Bochy thought for a moment and responded, "We know how exciting this guy can be. But he is young and he's learning the game on both sides, really. I see him at some point getting that opportunity."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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