Christian gets nod in leadoff spot to start second half

Christian gets nod in leadoff spot to start second half

Christian gets nod in leadoff spot to start second half
SAN FRANCISCO -- Justin Christian was back at the top of the Giants' lineup on Friday, and the 32-year-old outfielder may have impressed manager Bruce Bochy enough in the team's road trip to end the first half to become a more available option off the bench down the stretch.

The sparingly used Christian went 4-for-7 in two starts against the Nationals and Pirates before the All-Star break, scoring four runs and stealing a base. He got the start in right field and at the leadoff spot in Friday's game against the Astros.

"I liked what I saw," Bochy said. "I thought he threw out some great at-bats. He drove the ball, even when the right-handers got in there he had some quality at-bats, which was impressive considering the time that he missed. He kept his timing, and that's a credit to how hard he worked during all the games he had off. I think he's earned this."

The Giants faced left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, and the right-handed-hitting Christian got the nod over regular right fielder Gregor Blanco, who bats left-handed.

Bochy said he doesn't anticipate Christian will challenge Blanco for his spot despite Blanco's recent slump. Blanco has batted .220 in June and July after hitting .315 in May.

"We'll see. This is a lineup that has been pretty set, and we'd like to keep it that way as much as we can," Bochy said. "But again, because of the job he did on the last road trip, I wanted to give him the start against this lefty.

Christian's emergence gives Bochy another speedy player to plug into the leadoff spot, along with center fielder Angel Pagan.

"It would be nice to have another guy who can assume that leadoff spot when Blanco's not in there," Bochy said. "And Pagan, I wouldn't be surprised to see him lead off at some point occasionally in the second half as we give guys a break and mix it up a little bit. With Christian, it's nice to have someone like him. He really gives us three pretty good leadoff hitters."