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Gomez impressing with bat early

Switch-hitter helps launch five-run rally; Holland praises Hundley; Bochy pays tribute to Towers
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, a reserve infielder is on the team for his defensive prowess. But don't be surprised if Miguel Gomez, who rarely gets cheated in the batter's box, swings his way into contention for a role on the season-opening roster.

Gomez lifted his batting average to .571 (4-for-7) with a double that launched a five-run, ninth-inning outburst in the Giants' 10-6 Cactus League loss Monday to Kansas City.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Typically, a reserve infielder is on the team for his defensive prowess. But don't be surprised if Miguel Gomez, who rarely gets cheated in the batter's box, swings his way into contention for a role on the season-opening roster.

Gomez lifted his batting average to .571 (4-for-7) with a double that launched a five-run, ninth-inning outburst in the Giants' 10-6 Cactus League loss Monday to Kansas City.

View Full Game Coverage

Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged that the switch-hitting Gomez could intensify the competition for a backup middle infielder spot. Kelby Tomlinson and non-roster invitees Chase d'Arnaud, Orlando Calixte and Josh Rutledge are among others being considered for this role.

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As Bochy repeated, referring to Gomez, "The bat plays."

Gomez, 25, hit .242 in 22 games last year with the Giants before a right knee injury ended his season prematurely.

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Praise for Hundley

Giants left-hander Derek Holland was struck by the ease with which he and backup catcher Nick Hundley forged their collaboration in Monday's game.

"I'm not taking anything away from [Buster] Posey's game. I haven't thrown to him," Holland said after his two-inning stint. Nevertheless, Holland said, "Hundley and I were on the same page. For never having thrown to him, to be able to just look at him and [for him to] know what I want just shows how much of a leader he is behind the plate."

Bochy honors Towers

Bochy returned to Scottsdale shortly before game time, having traveled to San Diego to speak Sunday at the celebration of the life of Kevin Towers, who died of thyroid cancer on Jan. 30.

Towers was Bochy's first pitching coach in his professional managerial career; Bochy managed the Padres when Towers was their general manager; and they were Minor League teammates in the San Diego organization. Naturally, they were the closest of friends.

Video: Bruce Bochy on the passing of Kevin Towers

"You learn from your friends, and I learned a lot through Kevin," Bochy said. "He taught me how to live in different ways, when all odds are against you.

"He said, 'I'm going to beat this thing. If I don't, I'm a winner either way.'"

Worth noting

Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 draftee from the Rockies organization, allowed four eighth-inning runs in a rough Giants debut. That won't stop the Giants from using Fernandez, since they must decide whether to keep him or offer him back to Colorado. "We're going to try to get as good a look at him as we can," Bochy said.

Up next:

Right-hander Jeff Samardzija makes his Cactus League debut for the Giants on Tuesday when they confront the Arizona Diamondbacks beginning at 12:05 p.m. PT at Scottsdale. Right-handers Sam Dyson and Hunter Strickland are also expected to pitch for San Francisco.

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, Miguel Gomez