Giants option Burriss, call up Downs
Second baseman to work out kinks in Minor Leagues
SAN FRANCISCO -- Seeking more offense and growing concerned about Emmanuel Burriss' development, the Giants optioned the slumping second baseman to Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday and purchased the contract of Matt Downs from the same club.The Giants could not recall Kevin Frandsen, the most logical alternative to Burriss, who was optioned to Fresno last Friday when first baseman Travis Ishikawa left the bereavement list. Players must remain in the Minors for at least 10 days after being demoted unless an injury is involved. Second-base alternatives at the Major League level were limited, at best. Juan Uribe is fully capable of playing second but remains limited by a strained hamstring. He likely won't be able to start until the weekend, manager Bruce Bochy said. Utility man Rich Aurilia hasn't played second base since 2007. But with Burriss in an 0-for-27 skid that dropped his batting average to .238, the Giants felt compelled to act. "Manny needs to go down and work on some things," Bochy said. "I think it's fair to say that he's had his struggles." The Giants envision Burriss as a potential top-of-the-order hitter. But he lacked comfort in that role this year, batting .148 (4-for-27) from the leadoff spot and .226 (7-for-31) hitting second. He fell into his most recent slump while hitting eighth, the spot he most commonly occupied this season. "He can be a leadoff guy, a catalyst type of player," Bochy said of Burriss, 24. "That's the part of the game he has to work on -- the little game, the bunt, using the whole field. He got away from that."
Refining such skills, Bochy pointed out, is difficult to do in the Majors.Burriss' slump persisted even after Bochy benched him for two days last week in Arizona to give him a mental and physical break, furthering the organization's opinion that a move might be necessary. The Giants' lingering desperation for offensive contributions didn't help Burriss' status.
"We felt like we needed more offense here right now," Bochy said.Burriss helped preserve Randy Johnson's 300th victory with a spectacular diving play and Tim Lincecum's shutout Friday with a strong throw from short right field. Yet Bochy said that Burriss' offense was beginning to affect his defense "a little bit." Bochy remained upbeat about Burriss' prospects overall.
"He's really ahead of the game by starting out the season as our Opening Day second baseman," Bochy said. "This is just a little hiccup in his career. He'll be back."Downs, 25, earned an invitation to Spring Training as a non-roster player after batting .310 in three professional seasons. The right-handed batter capitalized on his opportunity by hitting .318 in 25 Cactus League games. This season, Downs was hitting .288 for Fresno, including .383 with runners in scoring position. He also had six home runs and 38 RBIs in 54 games. "You play your whole life to be here," said Downs, a 36th-round Draft choice in 2006. "It's like a dream come true." To make room for Downs on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated catcher Steve Holm for assignment.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.