SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie second baseman Joe Panik is batting second for the Giants today against the Colorado Rockies. It’s a temporary move, manager Bruce Bochy said -- at least for now. Michael Morse is getting a day off, and Bochy wanted to bump Hunter Pence down to fifth to lengthen the lineup a little.
"He’s got a lot of experience there," Bochy said of Pence. "So instead of having a lot of kids in the five-hole and down, put Panik in the two-hole."
Bochy, though, added that the No. 2 spot is somewhere he could see Panik in the future. Panik has handled the bat well since being called up -- he’s batting .297 with 13 RBIs -- and while he’s a different hitter certainly than Pence, he’s what some might consider a more traditional type of No. 2 hitter.
That schism in thought was brought up to Bochy -- is it better to have a contact guy in the second spot, with whom you can bunt, hit-and-run, etc., or as some teams are now doing, to put your best hitter second (such as the Angels with Mike Trout) to get them more at-bats over the course of a game and season?
Bochy said that while he ideally likes a No. 2 hitter who "can bunt, hit and run, things like that," he has to consider the lineup as a whole. Thus, while Bochy values Pence’s speed and run generation at the top of the lineup, today Pence is batting fifth because there’s a need for more of a presence there with Morse resting.
"I do like the better hitters up at the top of the lineup," Bochy added. "I think that just makes sense."
Today’s change also makes sense for a couple other reasons -- it gets another left-hander toward the top of the order against right-hander Jordan Lyles, the first right-handed starter the Giants have seen in this series, and the Giants’ offense outside of Buster Posey’s home runs has been pretty quiet the past couple of days, so a shakeup could help.
The No. 2 hitter debate is something to consider for when the Giants ostensibly get back to full strength, later this season or next, and if Panik does become the everyday second baseman. For now, here’s the full Giants lineup for today’s series finale against the Rockies:
And the Rockies’ lineup against Yusmeiro Petit:
* Bochy had said yesterday that Brandon Crawford would be back in the lineup today at shortstop. But he said this morning he changed his mind, again citing some "general soreness" for Crawford.
"I think this is one of those deals where two days will benefit him more than one, to let him freshen up here," Bochy said.
It helps that Matt Duffy had a good game starting in Crawford’s stead last night, with two hits and some solid defense at shortstop.
* Tim Lincecum is available out of the bullpen today. Bochy said he isn’t entire sure in what situation he would use Lincecum, but that middle relief makes the most sense, as he wants to keep the Giants’ other right-handed relievers in their established roles.
Bochy was asked about how long this Lincecum-to-the-bullpen move will last, and said it will largely depend on how Lincecum performs when he does return to the mound -- and how Petit pitches in his stead.
Petit has a shot at some history today: He has retired 38 consecutive batters, seven away from the major-league record of 45 set by Mark Buerhle in 2009. The N.L. record is 41 in a row set by the Giants’ Jim Barr.
* There’s no news on Brandon Belt’s concussion -- but there is on the Belt family front. Belt and his wife, Haylee, welcomed a son Wednesday night. He’s Greyson Ellis Belt, whom the Giants said clocked in at 10 pounds and 20 ½ inches long.
Bochy this morning said he hadn’t been told the name. Asked if it might be Bruce, he smiled and said: "I think I have a better shot than Marco." Marco Scutaro threw the ball that concussed Belt.