Andre Ethier

Mark DeRosa may not be a bench player for long

It was a day game after two disappointing, offensively stagnant night games, but it was still awfully strange to turn on my television and see Miguel Tejada … hitting leadoff. Bruce Bochy is hardly averse to throwing lineup out there that looks wacky at first glance when things are going kind of sluggishly, but game No. 3 seemed kind of early. But there was Miggy, speed demon and OBP savant, leading off.

Also in the game, and collecting two hits apiece: Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa, who in three games is starting to look like the guy Brian Sabean must have thought he’d be getting last season. DeRosa drew a leadoff walk in the 8th off Hong-Chih Kuo on Thursday, and although he struck out in his lone plate appearance last night, the image of Pablo Sandoval’s awful throw last night on the run probably kept Bochy from sleeping much last night. DeRosa’s inclusion in today’s lineup was far less surprising than the Andres Torres/Rowand/Tejada musical chairs that took place this afternoon in the Giants’ 10-0 victory, and looks to become more and more common as the year goes on.

That is, unless Pablo Sandoval plays a perfect third base, Pat Burrell generates the ability to make solid contact on a fastball more than once every ten plate appearances, and Cody Ross suffers no setbacks as the season goes on with his torn calf muscle. Add that to the fact that Freddy Sanchez will need days off from time to time, and it’s conceivable that if DeRosa stays healthy, injuries and inconsistencies throughout the non Posey/Huff parts of the lineup will lead to DeRosa starting more than half the Giants’ games this season.

(The fact that Bochy already had to tell Sandoval that he won’t be a platoon player makes me think he WILL be a platoon player at some point, but perhaps that’s just my cynicism rearing it’s suspicious head once again.)

And would an increased role for DeRosa be such a bad thing? DeRosa takes pitches. Whether or not inserting one selective hitter into a lineup causes others in that lineup to take more pitches than normal, I don’t have the frickin’ foggiest, to quote Jeff Kent. But while Sanchez hit a home run late in the game, the bulk of the Giants’ offensive wakeup call was caused by long at-bats that wore out Ted Lilly and relievers like Kenley Jansen and Rheal John Cormier. DeRosa is never going to be the rangiest third baseman, second baseman or corner outfielder, but the Giants of 2010 were built on sure-handedness. DeRosa will never run you out of an inning, throw to the wrong base or swing at the first pitch after a pitcher throws 8 consecutive balls. He might not sell many themed hats, but Bochy’s going to find himself going to the DeRosa (lineup) card more often than not as this year wears on. Just watch.

Moving on from DeRosa to other future TV yakkers…

– So you think Randy Winn called CSN Bay Area immediately after retiring, or did they call him? That goatee just screams regional analyst.

– Freddy Sanchez (who ranks behind DeRosa and Cody Ross as the guy most likely to get a TV gig in the Bay Area once his career ends) signed a 1-year extension ($6 million). Good. Not much to add here, except the Giants need to address their middle infield depth in the next draft after focusing on outfield speed in the last one.

– Nothing against Freddy (the best position player on the team, so far), but if anyone in the minors was close to being ready to take over the second base job, they would have let Sanchez play out his contract year.

– You know people are spoiled when they’re already complaining about Jonathan Sanchez.

– Matt Cain will probably never work on TV after his playing days are over, but there was something calming about watching him pitch today. For the first time this season, the Giants looked like they did in the playoffs, which makes sense because Cain was quietly the team’s playoffs MVP if you’re considering the entirety of their postseason run. Besides one pitch to Matt Kemp that caught too much of the plate, nobody got a good swing off on Cain today. And nary a walk. Compared to the last image of Lilly today in the dugout, contemplating what went wrong, Cain’s easy stride off the field after each of his last six innings showed why the Giants would have been insane to question themselves after losing the first two games of this series.

– Besides Kemp (who’s hustling now, so congrats to him on that) and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers lineup is feeble. To anyone still worried about the prospect of Miggy leading off more than once a year, the Dodgers’ leadoff man on Saturday was Aaron Miles.

– Dodgers fans already seem to know their team isn’t built for contention, or they’re just tired of ownership issues and a team without a superstar since Mannywood went from cultural phenomenon to fairly embarrassing footnote. This was a Saturday afternoon game, against the team’s chief rivals, in the opening series of the season, and it looked like there were 25,000 fans in the stands (and I’m being generous). Not only that, but a good portion of them ignored multiple warnings from Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper on last night’s broadcast, and wore their orange and black proudly at Chavez Ravine. Guess Giants fans figured the wannabe murderers only show up on Opening Day.

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