San Francisco Giants

Giants will explore options for replacing Hunter Pence in right field

San Francisco Giants' Nori Aoki (23) runs during a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz.
San Francisco Giants' Nori Aoki (23) runs during a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in Mesa, Ariz. AP

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he will consider using offseason addition Nori Aoki to replace injured Hunter Pence in right field. Aoki was acquired to be the everyday left fielder, but most of his starts in the majors have been in right field, where the Giants have a hole after Pence fractured his left forearm Thursday.

“With our right field, it’s a lot of ground there, but he’s got the speed to do it,” Bochy said of Aoki after the Giants’ 12-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday. “He says he’s comfortable anywhere, but he did say (he has) played more right field. I’m going to take a look at it here for a few games.”

Bochy said he could change his mind by Opening Day because the Giants have other options for filling the corner outfield spots while Pence is out. Gregor Blanco is more familiar with the dimensions of right field at AT&T Park, and Juan Perez knows the outfield.

Blanco and Perez could also platoon in right field, but Bochy said he would prefer to have one player manning that position every day. Hence the early thought that Aoki could play right with Blanco and Perez platooning in left.

A lot will depend on how the roster looks when the Giants break camp, and whether a lesser-known player like Justin Maxwell – a right-handed hitter with pop who’s getting a long look in camp – or a long shot like Jarrett Parker – a left-handed hitter who crushed two balls off left-handed pitchers Friday – can complicate the decision.

“We’re going to go with our best players,” Bochy said. “Last year, you look at the postseason and it worked pretty good with Blanco and Perez, and even (Travis Ishikawa in left field). So we’ll take a look at some different things there the next couple weeks.”

One other tweak: With Pence missing from the middle of the lineup, Bochy sounds more inclined to move Angel Pagan there and experiment with Aoki leading off. Bochy said Aoki will bat first and Pagan third when the Giants play the San Diego Padres Saturday at Scottsdale Stadium.

Petit sharp – Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit said he watched his critical six-inning relief performance in Game 2 of last year’s National League Division Series three times this winter – his family kept wanting to watch it with him.

Reporters in his native Venezuela seemed more interested in the MLB record Petit set last season by retiring 46 consecutive batters: “I got a lot of interviews there.”

Petit, 30, went home a World Series champion, his 1.42 ERA in 122/3 postseason innings a key to the Giants’ success. Petit picked up where he left off in his Cactus League debut Friday, retiring all six hitters on 26 pitches in the Giants’ win.

“He came in ready, he came in in great shape,” Bochy said. “He’s got the art of pitching down.”

Et cetera – Bochy said Brandon Crawford, who has not played shortstop in a game this spring due to shoulder soreness, “had a good day” in infield drills Friday and could play defense Monday or Tuesday. Crawford went 1 for 4 with a triple as the Giants’ designated hitter against the Rangers.

▪ Parker crushed two balls into a windy center field and went 1-for-2 with a double off the wall. Infielder Matt Duffy and outfielder Gary Brown beat the gusts with homers to left field. Right-hander Kyle Crick pitched 22/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015.

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