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Longoria brings consistent excellence to Giants

Veteran third baseman was traded after 10 seasons with Rays
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have quickly learned what makes third baseman Evan Longoria a special performer.

He's dynamic with the bat, capable of consistently spraying line drives all over the field. And he's graceful with his glove, turning challenging plays into routine ones.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have quickly learned what makes third baseman Evan Longoria a special performer.

He's dynamic with the bat, capable of consistently spraying line drives all over the field. And he's graceful with his glove, turning challenging plays into routine ones.

The Giants knew that Christian Arroyo, their former top third-base prospect, could match Longoria's multifaceted excellence ... someday. Intent on returning to the postseason as soon as possible and needing an already accomplished star, the Giants sent four players, including Arroyo, to the Rays for Longoria last Dec. 20.

The Giants reasoned that Longoria, 32, represents a significant upgrade at third base, where they started nine players last year. Left field, where the Giants had 12 different starters, was their only position more widely populated.

Video: SF@SEA: Longoria skies a double in the 2nd

Longoria also has the potential to bolster the No. 5 hole in the batting order, which he's expected to occupy primarily. Giants hitters amassed 20 homers and 91 RBIs from that spot last year, which sounds good, until you learn that the respective National League averages were 28 and 100.

Longoria has 162-game averages of 29 home runs and 101 RBIs over his first 10 seasons.  

"He's always been a tough out," said Giants left-hander Derek Holland, who faced Longoria during his nine seasons with the Rangers and White Sox. "I've joked around with him. I'm the type of person who talks to everybody anyway, so every time I talked to him, I'd say, 'I can't get you out. What is it, do you see grapefruits when I throw?'"

Longoria owns a .343 batting average (12-for-35) with five doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs against Holland.

Video: Longoria checks in at No. 26 on the IT Top 50

Switching from the American League to the NL could potentially be a challenge for Longoria. But the three-time All-Star isn't concerned.

"There definitely is some level of comfort when you have faced those [opposing pitchers] a lot," Longoria said. "But that's the great thing about our team, is that we have a ton of veterans, guys who have been in the division for a long time who know how guys are going to be pitched. ...

"There's going to need to be a level of trust from me to be able to say, 'I haven't seen this guy,' but I'm going to trust my teammates, and guys who have been here, that their assessment or scouting report is right. ... Probably the first time through the league, there's probably going to be a lot more selective at-bats from me."

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, Evan Longoria