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Giants to give Duggar long look in center field

Prospect facing competition with free-agent signee Jackson
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Since last fall, the Giants have made it clear that rookie Steven Duggar has a chance to earn meaningful playing time in center field.

Duggar will start trying to seize that chance Friday when the Giants open their Cactus League exhibition season against a Brewers split squad.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Since last fall, the Giants have made it clear that rookie Steven Duggar has a chance to earn meaningful playing time in center field.

Duggar will start trying to seize that chance Friday when the Giants open their Cactus League exhibition season against a Brewers split squad.

Giants Spring Training info | Tickets

Duggar could earn a role as the left-handed-swinging half of a platoon with free-agent acquisition Austin Jackson. Or he could win the starting job outright. Or he might perform unsteadily enough to warrant a return to Triple-A Sacramento for more seasoning.

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Giants manager Bruce Bochy hopes that Duggar, rated the club's No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, plays well enough this spring to allow the Giants to render a fair judgment of his skills.

"I don't want him to put too much pressure on himself," Bochy said Wednesday. "I want him to be who he is out there. We don't know what's going to happen. But go out there and do the best he can with the idea that 'I'm going to make this team.'"

Sandoval to catch in bullpen
Though Bochy said Pablo Sandoval would play catcher during the regular season only in an extreme emergency, he has asked the "Kung Fu Panda" to catch a handful of pitchers' bullpen sessions to familiarize himself with how it's done.

Unintentionally or otherwise, Sandoval broached the subject by showing his catcher's mitt to reporters upon arriving in camp.

"He showed me the glove. That's all I need," Bochy said.

Sandoval appeared in 190 games as a catcher while playing in the Minor Leagues for the Giants. He started 12 games behind the plate for San Francisco in 2008-09.

Bochy added that he wants the switch-hitting Sandoval to get some at-bats against left-handers during spring exhibitions. Sandoval has avoided batting right-handed due to injury and ineffectiveness.

Bell rings up Harris to lead Double-A team
When David Bell became the Giants' vice president of player development this offseason, one of the first calls he made was to Willie Harris, who was managing Class A Advanced Winston-Salem in the White Sox organization.

Bell wanted Harris, 39, to join the Giants organization and manage Double-A Richmond. There is a connection between the two. Bell managed Harris in 2012 when both were with Triple-A Louisville, a Reds affiliate, and Harris left an impression on Bell.

"Just his energy for the game and his ability to make people around him better is what impressed me," Bell said of Harris, who played 12 seasons in the Majors. "If you look at those characteristics, you are going to have a lot of success. I'm convinced Willie is going to do a great job."

Harris doesn't know who will be on his Richmond roster, but he is interested in seeing outfielder Heliot Ramos, the No. 3 prospect in the Giants organization, according to MLB Pipeline. He hit .348 with six home runs and 27 RBIs in 35 games for the Rookie-level Giants in the Arizona League.

"I know he is a younger kid, so he will not be at Double-A. I'm just looking forward to seeing the way he goes about his business. I want to see how he is handling himself."

Worth noting
• Bochy said left-hander Ty Blach will start the Cactus League opener against the Brewers. Blach is a favorite to claim either the fourth or fifth spot in the Giants' starting rotation.

• Due to the compressed schedule, which gave the Giants and most other teams only four days of full-squad workouts before the beginning of the exhibition season, Bochy said position players will continue to take live batting practice off the team's pitchers until everybody's sharp.

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. MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson contributed to this notebook.

San Francisco Giants, Steven Duggar