Giants facing tough infield choices
Ortmeier fights back in bid to keep starting first-base job
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants want to name a lineup by early next week, and Dan Ortmeier wants to influence their decision.Manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that he hopes to announce starters at the unsettled infield corners by or shortly after next Tuesday, when the Giants face the Chicago Cubs in their final Arizona exhibition. This would enable the regulars to play together and gain familiarity with each other during the exhibitions March 26 at Fresno and March 27-30 in the Bay Area. "When we head to Fresno, I think at that point we'll huddle up and decide which way we want to go everywhere on the infield," Bochy said. The Giants have seemed inclined to make Rich Aurilia their Opening Day first baseman, although he was scratched from his scheduled start at third base Wednesday with tendinitis in his right elbow. Aurilia is likely to serve as designated hitter Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels. Once Aurilia makes his anticipated return to the lineup Friday, "Richie's going to play a little more first," general manager Brian Sabean said. Ortmeier, the presumptive first baseman before camp opened, intends to launch a late rally. Preoccupied by the burdens of switch-hitting and learning the subtleties of his position after spending most of his career in the outfield, he entered Wednesday with a .178 average, no home runs and one RBI in 45 at-bats. But Ortmeier went 2-for-4, lining a triple and an RBI single in his first two at-bats during the Giants' 4-2 exhibition loss to the Cubs. "My mind-set is I want to finish spring strong and get some momentum going into the regular season," Ortmeier said. "I'm choosing not to get frustrated. You take it and learn from it, and any time you struggle or go through a hard time, it makes you a better player and a better man." Ortmeier spent Tuesday's off-day participating in a Minor League intrasquad game in an attempt to sharpen his swing. "I'm five at-bats closer," he said, brimming with optimism. Bochy acknowledged that there's "not a lot of time" for Ortmeier to reassert himself, but didn't rule out that prospect. "He has to relax and stop pressing," Bochy said. "We know a lot has been on his plate. He wants to do well, so he's taking it hard, the fact that he hasn't been swinging the bat as well as he can. But I think he feels good the last couple of days." Should Ortmeier claim first base, the Giants would select their third baseman from an array including Aurilia, Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez. "We have some movable parts," Bochy said. "It's nice to have that flexibility. We'll be able to adjust if we have to."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.