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Duffy earning playing time, supports McGehee

Rookie hopes third baseman shakes slump and regains starting role
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- Many of the zealots who manage the Giants on social media, via phone calls to radio talk shows and in the privacy of their recreation rooms doubtlessly have decided that rookie Matt Duffy, not veteran Casey McGehee, should start at third base.

Speaking modestly and sincerely after the Giants' 9-1 loss Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, Duffy insisted he envisions a different solution.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Many of the zealots who manage the Giants on social media, via phone calls to radio talk shows and in the privacy of their recreation rooms doubtlessly have decided that rookie Matt Duffy, not veteran Casey McGehee, should start at third base.

Speaking modestly and sincerely after the Giants' 9-1 loss Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, Duffy insisted he envisions a different solution.

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"I think we're at our best if we're both producing -- if he's starting and producing and I'm pinch-hitting and producing," Duffy said.

That scenario has unfolded in the past couple of days, albeit with a few twists. Giants manager Bruce Bochy kept McGehee, his season-opening third baseman, out of the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday to relieve the mental burden of his .181 batting average -- which fell to .178 with an unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearance Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Duffy rapped a pair of hits each day. He scored the Giants' lone run Wednesday and garnished his effort Tuesday by beating out the back end of a potential double play. That enabled a key run to score.

Bochy said he started Duffy on Wednesday as a "reward" for his gutty effort the night before and hinted he might keep the slender 24-year-old in the lineup for Thursday's series opener against the Miami Marlins.

"Until we have Casey in the right place, it's nice to have a guy like Duffy or even Joaquin [Arias] step in and do a nice job for you," Bochy said after the Padres ended San Francisco's winning streaks of five games overall and eight games at AT&T Park.

Duffy hopes McGehee soon can regain the form he displayed with Miami last year, when he hit .287 and drove in 76 runs. Such statistics would virtually match those generated by McGehee's popular predecessor, Pablo Sandoval, who hit .279 with 73 RBIs before fleeing for Boston in free agency.

"You want what's best for everybody," said Duffy, who distinguished himself last season by contributing critical pinch-hits and making the postseason roster. "He's a very good player. We all know that. We've all seen glimpses of it. ... I feel for him personally and for the team and ultimately he's a really good guy who works hard."

The Giants acquired McGehee for a pair of Minor League pitchers last December.

Meanwhile, Duffy is undergoing a crash course in playing third, a position he occupied exactly three times in a 239-game Minor League career spent mainly at shortstop. He has worked extensively with instructor Shawon Dunston and bench coach Ron Wotus, who smashes a variety of ground balls at him to simulate game activity.

The extra practice has helped Duffy, who has yet to commit an error at third. He admitted that he needed to adjust spatially to his new spot.

"I felt like the batter was on top of me," he said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Francisco Giants, Matt Duffy, Casey McGehee