SAN FRANCISCO Bruce Bochy said he briefly debated himself over whom to write in as the center fielder on his lineup card before the Giants' 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
While Bochy considered giving the start to Francisco Peguero, just recalled from Triple A, he ultimately went with the more experienced Gregor Blanco.
With Brett Pill making his second start of the season in left field, he said, it would have been too much rawness to throw behind Tim Lincecum against the first-place Pirates.
"But as you'll see, these young guys, we'll try to get them in there as much as we can," Bochy said before the game. "And that may not just be against the clubs that are not contending. We're going to do what we think is right."
It's the kind of decision that faces Bochy and the Giants as they near the final month of a trying season: How do they balance things like pride, competitiveness and a duty to the sellout crowds at AT&T Park with the opportunity to evaluate some of the organization's younger players?
"I think you still go out there and try to win every game," Bochy said. "At the same time, you've got to look at what's best for you, and that may be to find out about some of these guys. It hasn't gone great for us this year, so there's nothing wrong with making some changes and taking a look at these younger players."
Pill is not exactly a young player at 28, but Bochy recently said the Giants are interested in having him play left where he has nine career starts to see if Pill can be a kind of super-utility player in the majors. Peguero remains a bit of an enigma in his third call-up, a career .306 hitter in the minors who is 6 for 32 in two previous stints with the Giants.
Pill contributed a check-swing RBI single to the Giants' four-run first inning Saturday against Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano. It matched the most runs scored by the Giants in the first this season (the third time) and came against a pitcher who had allowed four or more runs in only four of his first 19 starts.
The Giants didn't tear the cover off the ball they also scored on Buster Posey's broken-bat single, Pablo Sandoval's groundout and single and a line-drive single by Blanco. But they batted around and made Liriano throw 38 pitches in the first inning, leading to his exit after the fourth.
Lincecum, meanwhile, allowed only a Tony Sanchez solo homer while striking out eight through the first five innings as the Giants won for just the fourth time in his last 18 starts. Lincecum also walked four, padding his pitch count, and departed with one out in the sixth after walking Andrew McCutchen and giving up a double to Pedro Alvarez.
Both runners scored as relievers Jose Mijares and Jean Machi allowed back-to-back RBI singles, but Machi kept it a two-run game, striking out Andrew Lambo and getting Clint Barmes to ground out to Sandoval, whose throw to first was dug out of the dirt by Posey.
Pill, who is batting .359 (14 for 39) in 10 starts since being recalled from Fresno on July 29, was replaced defensively in the fifth by Roger Kieschnick, a rookie who has received ample playing time since debuting July 31.
Soon rejoining that outfield mix will be Angel Pagan, whom Bochy said will play often in September as he works his way back from left hamstring surgery.
"He'll be out there for the most part according to how he feels," Bochy said.
Bochy said Pagan's leg is feeling fine and it's "just a matter of him getting used to game speed and the timing at the plate."
Et cetera Reliever Jeremy Affeldt (groin) threw off a mound before Saturday's game and could begin a rehab assignment by the end of next week, Bochy said.