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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Bocock played for the United States squad in last year's Futures Game before the All-Star Game in San Francisco. He didn't imagine that he'd have the chance to return to AT&T Park so soon.
Bocock has a legitimate opportunity to begin the season as the Giants' starting shortstop, despite playing at Class A last year. Omar Vizquel's left knee surgery is likely to sideline him for at least the season's first week or two, creating the temporary opening. Emmanuel Burriss and Ivan Ochoa, non-roster invitees like Bocock, also are competing for the job.
Since defense is always the priority at shortstop, the Giants are willing to endure Bocock's offensive shortcomings. Certainly, expectations for him would be low. Bocock owns a .239 average in two Minor League seasons, including a .220 figure in 87 games at Class A San Jose last year.
Nevertheless, Bocock doesn't intend to be an automatic out. In eight games this spring, he has hit a respectable .278 (5-for-18).
"Defense and my arm always have been my assets, even coming out of high school," said Bocock, San Francisco's ninth-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of Stetson University. "Nobody thought I could hit, but gradually I'm kind of changing what people think."
Bocock would welcome even a brief stint in the Majors. "Maybe down the road it'll help me, knowing what it's like to play at the highest level," he said.
Despite being only 25, Ochoa has spent eight seasons in professional baseball. The native of Guacara, Venezuela, was signed by Cleveland as a non-drafted free agent in May 2000.
Last year was Ochoa's first full season at Triple-A. He struggled with a knee injury, but hit .296 in 47 games when healthy. Although he re-signed with the Giants as a Minor League free agent, he aroused interest from a handful of other clubs.
If control counts for anything, then Patrick Misch might have a shot at claiming a starting rotation spot in Noah Lowry's absence.
Misch, 26, has compiled a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (506-156) in 644 1/3 Minor League innings. Misch's same ratio in the Majors is only 2.25-to-1 (27-12), but his walk total is respectable given the 41 1/3 innings he has pitched for the Giants.
So far this spring, Misch owns a 2.25 ERA with four strikeouts and two walks in four innings.
Rule 5 update:
So far, Jose Capellan has done little to convince the Giants to try to keep him. As a Rule 5 draftee, the Giants must keep Capellan on their active Major League roster all season, offer him back to Boston or make a deal with the Red Sox to retain him in their Minor League system.
Capellan, who has never pitched above Class A, owns a 13.50 ERA in two appearances and has allowed hits to three of the seven batters he has faced. But he's also left-handed and 21, and the Giants liked what they saw in his bullpen sessions early in camp.
News and features:
Spring Training info:
Spring Training Spotlight: Giants 400K
Rowand on facing his former team 400K
Lansford offers Giants status report 400K
Haft on life without Bonds 400K
Kline discusses spring 400K
Correia on his outing 400K
Keep an eye on: Injuries to Bengie Molina and Guillermo Rodriguez have given catcher Steve Holm more chances to play. Holm, who hit .272 last year at Double-A Connecticut, is batting .250 in six games this spring. He's beginning his eighth season in the Giants' system.
They're No. 1:
Outfielder Ben Copeland, San Francisco's top pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft -- although he was selected in the fourth round out of the University of Pittsburgh -- was reassigned to Minor League camp after appearing in two exhibition games.
Class of '07:
Second baseman Nick Noonan began the spring in Minor League camp but was summoned to play as a substitute in a split-squad exhibition game Feb. 29, indicating that the supplemental pick (32nd overall) could appear again with the big leaguers as the Cactus League season progresses..
What they're saying:
"You've got to prove to yourself, with people watching, that I can play this game." -- Bocock, on the opportunity he's receiving at shortstop