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Giants like Nunez entrenched at third base

Versatile player unlikely to return to super-utility role
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For now, the Giants intend to stick with Eduardo Nunez as their regular third baseman, despite the lively offensive production they've received from others at that position during Cactus League action.

Entering San Francisco's exhibition game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, two Giants in particular had thrived at the plate while replacing Nunez, who's limited to the designated hitter's role by a sore shoulder. Conor Gillaspie was 3-for-6 and Jae-gyun Hwang was 2-for-7. Each had a home run and four RBIs.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For now, the Giants intend to stick with Eduardo Nunez as their regular third baseman, despite the lively offensive production they've received from others at that position during Cactus League action.

Entering San Francisco's exhibition game Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, two Giants in particular had thrived at the plate while replacing Nunez, who's limited to the designated hitter's role by a sore shoulder. Conor Gillaspie was 3-for-6 and Jae-gyun Hwang was 2-for-7. Each had a home run and four RBIs.

Gillaspie obviously senses a chance to seize the moment. He took pregame ground balls at second base in an apparent effort to diversify himself. The Giants' third baseman against the Dodgers was Aaron Hill, a non-roster invitee who has started 157 games at third base and 1,164 at second during his 12 Major League seasons. Manager Bruce Bochy has been striving to give veterans such as infielders Hill, Gordon Beckham and Jimmy Rollins enough activity to prove their worthiness for the Opening Night roster.

The Giants need all the offense they can muster while performing mostly at pitcher-friendly ballparks during division play in the regular season (with the exception of Colorado's Coors Field). However, at this juncture of the Cactus League campaign, they won't get overexcited about Gillaspie and Hwang.

Hypothetically, playing Gillaspie or Hwang or both at third base would enable the Giants to use Nunez as a super-utility man, one who can fill in at any outfield spot or infield position, except for first base. Replacing various starters on different days, Nunez could accumulate as many as 400 at-bats.

But the Giants value Nunez more for his potential contributions as an everyday player than for his experience as a human Swiss Army knife with the Minnesota Twins. Moreover, Giants general manager Bobby Evans cautioned against assuming that Nunez can perform adequately, anywhere, at a moment's notice.

"He does have versatility," said Evans, who acquired Nunez from Minnesota shortly before last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline. "But it's not proven anywhere but shortstop and third."

In fact, Nunez has started 370 Major League games at those two positions, compared with 18 in the outfield corners and 16 at second base. He also has started 25 games as a designated hitter, as he did Wednesday to keep his swing sharp.

Evans said he wouldn't "rule it out that we might get creative" by trying Nunez in a different role than anticipated.

More than likely, the Giants won't try anything unusual with Nunez.

"The opportunity to do that," Evans pointed out, "would have been when he was a utility guy."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Eduardo Nunez