The “Marco Scutaro batting leadoff” experiment might have come to a quick end.
Scutaro is 0-for-9 in two games since Bruce Bochy took the San Francisco Giants leadoff production problem into his own hands, inserting the team’s everyday two-hitter into the first spot in the lineup. But after a second straight hitless night, Bochy could ditch the plan as quickly as it began.
“I’ll probably give him a day off tomorrow,” Bochy said of Scutaro after Tuesday night’s loss. “He needs a break.
“He’s dealt with the hip and the back and he’s not one to make excuses because he wants to be out there for the team to win but it’s time to take it out of his hands and give him a break,” Bochy said.
In his pregame address of the media, Bochy indicated he would use Thursday’s day game as a chance to allow Scutaro a day, but it’s likely now that Wednesday night’s game will serve as Scutaro’s rest day.
As for who would replace Scutaro in the leadoff position, Bochy hinted toward Hunter Pence before the game.
“When that happens there’s a good chance you could see Pence leading off,” Bochy said.
Pence has experience leading off, but not recently. He batted first in the order in 32 games for the Houston Astros spanning 2007 and 2008, posting a 279/.320/.434 line in 147 plate appearances. His numbers in 2013 don’t exactly scream leadoff hitter, but when things are as bad as they are, Bochy is searching for any sort of spark.
Bochy also likes Pence’s ability to successfully steal second base, another indication he could grant Pence the opportunity.
“He’s impressive,” Bochy said. “Not so much his speed, but he reads pitchers well and if they don’t give him a chance to run he’s smart about it.
“A stolen base is huge, but if you’re not getting a good percentage, it gets the the point of diminishing return and that’s what I like about Hunter,” he said. “He knows when to go.”
Belt has seven hits in his last 13 at-bats, including a double, a triple and a solo home run. He has drawn three walks and struck out four times over that span. Kieschnick has been hitting ever since his July 31 call-up, logging eight hits in 21 at-bats since the recall.
“I’m really pleased,” Bochy said of Belt. “He’s sticking with the adjustments. It’s not easy during the season to try and hit major league pitching and yet he’s made those adjustments.”
Belt has changed his grip on the bat, among other things.
“I’m happy that he’s having success with it,” Bochy said.
In regards to the team’s newest player, Bochy said Kieschnick looks “comfortable and calm” and told reporters he has liked his at-bats versus left-handed pitching.
Regardless of who’s hitting and where players bat in the lineup, the team’s failure to produce offense with runners in scoring position remains the achilles heel of 2013.
The Giants are 6-for-44 with runners in scoring position in their last five games.
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