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Back at hot corner, Longo goes deep

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Evan Longoria started his initial Cactus League game at third base for the Giants on Saturday and hit a home run.

The events quite possibly were related.

View Full Game Coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Evan Longoria started his initial Cactus League game at third base for the Giants on Saturday and hit a home run.

The events quite possibly were related.

View Full Game Coverage

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Longoria, one of the Giants' most important offseason acquisitions, made three previous exhibition appearances this spring, all as a designated hitter, and went 1-for-7. Back in his natural habitat of the hot corner, he launched an opposite-field drive to right in the fourth inning to help pad the Giants' scoring in a 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers.

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"I finally was able to barrel the ball up," he said. "I've put some good swings on balls, but just underneath them or in front of them. It was nice to get the first one out of the way."

Neither the Giants nor Longoria had any reason for concern before Saturday. The National League does not employ the DH, and manager Bruce Bochy wanted Longoria and other Giants veterans to prepare for the regular season gradually. That explained Longoria's relative inactivity through early spring.

Nevertheless, of the nine home runs the Giants struck in Saturday's split-squad victories (also a 13-4 win vs. the Indians), the most significant one belonged to Longoria, who'll be asked to play an important role for the Giants this season. They're hoping that he can start approximately 150 games, a total he eclipsed in seven of the previous nine seasons with Tampa Bay, and they expect him to hit authoritatively. The Giants had to be thrilled by how easily those two elements came together.

Video: TEX@SF: Longoria retires Robinson in debut at 3rd

"He's a pro," Bochy said. "You saw what kind of pop he has."

The Giants had scheduled Wednesday as the date for his first 2018 assignment at third base, but the timetable was accelerated at the three-time All-Star's request.

"We talked about it yesterday," Bochy said. "He said that he was ready. Like I said, there was nothing wrong with him, we just wanted to know that he was good to go."

Longoria wasn't sure what to do with himself during his DH stints. He'd stalk from the dugout to go pace the clubhouse, stopping to watch the game on the closed-circuit television monitors.

Longoria, 32, prefers playing infield to DHing. He has performed the latter duty in 87 of 1,435 Major League games.

"You're just into the game a little bit more," Longoria said. "The flow of the game is a little bit easier. I've never been a confident, consistent DH. Guys who come over to the American League or have been there for quite some time and are DHs all the time get into their own kind of routine. They have a thing they do, and I don't know how to do that."

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