Hard-luck outfielder Kieschnick savors opportunity with Giants

08/13/2013 12:00 AM

10/08/2014 10:46 AM

Fate kept Roger Kieschnick from reaching the major leagues sooner than he and others expected, but when he finally arrived, he immediately made an impact.

The outfielder, who was called up with Brett Pill from the Giants' Triple-A Fresno affiliate July 30, had RBI singles in his first two major-league at-bats to help the Giants end a five-game losing streak with a 9-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on July 31.

In attendance at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia were the Dallas native's parents, who flew in for the game after getting a call they, too, have long waited to receive.

"I was speechless. I didn't know what to say," Kieschnick said this past weekend at AT&T Park in San Francisco. "I called my mom, and then I called my dad and sister. They were definitely excited. My mom was screaming."

Kieschnick has fit in well with his new teammates, some of whom have been his friends for a while.

"He's definitely paid his dues. He's played well," Giants right fielder Hunter Pence said. "The story goes he's always been doing really well and when he's about to get the opportunity, some kind of freak injury happens.

"We're excited to have him as a part of the team. He's an exciting player, so it makes it a lot of fun having him out there."

Two spots on the Giants' roster opened after infielder-outfielder Kensuke Tanaka was optioned to Fresno and infielder Tony Abreu went on the disabled list because of left knee bursitis.

"It was a lot of hard work," said Kieschnick, 26. "I've been in the minor leagues for five years and definitely grateful to have the opportunity."

Last season in Fresno, Kieschnick led the Grizzlies with 15 home runs despite missing three months because of a left shoulder injury. He batted .306 with 40 RBIs in 55 games.

He was San Francisco's seventh-best prospect in 2010, according to Baseball America. However, he missed a lot of time that season after going on the disabled list twice because of back inflammation.

The Giants drafted Kieschnick in the third round in 2008, the year they selected Buster Posey in the first round and Brandon Crawford in the fourth.

Posey is a two-time All-Star catcher and the 2012 National League MVP, and Crawford is the Giants' everyday shortstop.

"Everyone's got their own timetable," Kieschnick said. "Yeah, I did battle some injuries, but in the end it worked out."

Kieschnick starred at Texas Tech, where he hit .305 with 17 home runs and 65 RBIs in 55 games in his final season.

Along with Crawford, Kieschnick played two summers with the U.S. national team and helped the club win the silver medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio De Janeiro.

"We were actually roommates, so we became friends," Crawford said. "We kept in touch throughout our college careers, and we were drafted with the same team. Now being in the big leagues with him is awesome. It's fun to watch him out there playing in the same lineup."

When Crawford got married in 2011, Kieschnick was one of his groomsmen.

Kieschnick has cooled after his hot start, which included three RBIs in his first two games. He hasn't had an RBI since, and he's hitting .265 overall with just one hit in his last five games.

However, with the Giants in last place and the playoffs all but out of reach, Kieschnick can expect to stick around AT&T Park and gain needed experience.

"He's just doing all right," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He got off to a good start. He's had a couple of games where he hasn't had some success, so he's got to deal with that part of it now."

"(We've) got growing pains with these young players he's going to get playing time up here, and we're going to get a look at him."

Kieschnick knows he needs to improve.

"I'm still working to get better each and every day," he said. "Still working to do whatever I can to help us win."

Call The Bee's Kristopher Rivera, (916) 321-1101 Follow him on Twitter @kgrivera.


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