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Duggar making serious push for center-field job

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A rookie's goal is to make club management want to see more of him. On Sunday, Steven Duggar left the Giants hoping for the sight of him on at least 150 occasions between late March and October.

Duggar, 24 and the Giants' No. 3 prospect, used Sunday's 9-3 Cactus League defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers as a platform to demonstrate why the Giants consider him a legitimate candidate to become their regular center fielder.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A rookie's goal is to make club management want to see more of him. On Sunday, Steven Duggar left the Giants hoping for the sight of him on at least 150 occasions between late March and October.

Duggar, 24 and the Giants' No. 3 prospect, used Sunday's 9-3 Cactus League defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers as a platform to demonstrate why the Giants consider him a legitimate candidate to become their regular center fielder.

View Full Game Coverage

Duggar ended the second inning and a bases-loaded Dodgers threat with a lunging catch of Chase Utley's line drive, displaying the fielding range the Giants want from the next man to patrol AT&T Park's vast center-field acreage.

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Employing what looked like a relaxed yet quick swing, Duggar opened the Giants' half of the third inning with his third spring home run. That lifted his Cactus League batting average to .412 in seven games.

"He looks like a ballplayer, for sure," Giants starter Jeff Samardzija said. "He's out there trying to win a job, and it's nice to see that he understands that. That awareness is important."

Video: LAD@SF: Duggar dives and makes catch

San Francisco's other contenders for the center-field job -- Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Austin Jackson -- are more experienced than Duggar. Yet none of them may match Duggar's potential.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy refused to name a favorite to claim the position.

"We're going to stay open-minded as we decide who the 25 guys are [on the Opening Day roster]," Bochy said.

Bochy admitted that Duggar is "making it tough on us," referring to himself and the club's other decision-makers.

Duggar, whom the Giants selected in the sixth round of the 2015 Draft, won't let himself assume anything.

"For me, it's day by day," Duggar said, describing his approach to the spring. "As simple as that sounds, that's how I go about things."

Video: LAD@SF: Bochy discusses offseason additions, Duggar

Bochy was especially impressed with Duggar's home run. Many Cactus League round-trippers travel unusually far due to wind or the thin desert atmosphere. But Duggar's clout off Kenta Maeda almost looked as if it had been struck by Willie McCovey, the legendary Giants slugger who was in attendance on Sunday.

"That wasn't an Arizona home run," Bochy said. "That ball goes out anywhere."

Like a surprisingly high percentage of talented outfielders, Duggar prefers to steal runs from opponents rather than generate offense himself.

"There's no better feeling than making a catch to keep guys off the scoreboard," he said.

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, Steven Duggar