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Bochy outlines potential Giants lineup

Bochy outlines potential Giants lineup

LAS VEGAS -- Although the Giants won't begin the 2009 regular season until April 7 against Milwaukee, manager Bruce Bochy already can envision his lineup taking shape.

Emphasizing that the batting order is "not etched in stone," Bochy said Tuesday at baseball's Winter Meetings that, given the current roster, right fielder Randy Winn would lead off, followed by shortstop Edgar Renteria and switch-hitting sensation Pablo Sandoval.

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Catcher Bengie Molina would return to the cleanup spot, with left fielder Fred Lewis and center fielder Aaron Rowand batting fifth and sixth, respectively. First baseman Travis Ishikawa would hit seventh. The winner of the second-base competition would occupy the No. 8 spot ahead of the pitcher.

This would give the Giants a potentially advantageous right-left alternation among their hitters throughout the lineup against right-handed pitching.

One of the more notable changes is Lewis' move from leadoff, where he batted 79 times last season, to fifth, a slot he occupied six times. Although Lewis homered only nine times in 468 at-bats, the Giants believe he can develop the power to hit in the middle of the order.

Molina himself has said that he'd fit better in a different spot. But Bochy insisted that he likes Molina, who led San Francisco with 16 home runs and 95 RBIs, batting fourth.

"He's a guy you want up there with men on base, he's clutch, he uses the whole field, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark," Bochy said. "They talk about his speed, but you can look at cleanup hitters around the league who can't run. That's not an issue. We want the guy who we think can do the most damage up there in the cleanup spot and he's our guy."

Bochy refused to name a favorite among Emmanuel Burriss, Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez in the second-base competition.

"It's going to go deep into the spring," Bochy said.

Bochy added that Nate Schierholtz, despite being destined for fourth-outfielder status, should receive adequate playing time while spelling Lewis, Rowand and Winn.

"It's a workable situation," Bochy said. "I think I'll have a better opportunity, with Nate there, to give them a few more days off and keep them fresh."

Bochy noted that he's inclined to keep a third catcher, most likely Steve Holm, to relieve part-time catcher Sandoval from the potential physical and mental stress of batting third, switching positions and handling the grueling catching duties. Holm's presence also would allow the Giants to pinch-run for the ponderous Molina when necessary without moving Sandoval behind the plate.

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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