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08/22/08 10:13 PM ET

Giants test Sandoval at hot corner

Rookie's versatility could help him earn Major League spot

SAN FRANCISCO -- Seeking more ways to get Pablo Sandoval's bat in the lineup, manager Bruce Bochy gave the 22-year-old switch-hitter his first Major League start at third base in Friday night's series opener against the San Diego Padres.

Sandoval entered the game batting .450 (9-for-20) and had hit safely in five of six games, three as a catcher and two as a first baseman. Although Sandoval had not played third professionally since 2006, this seemed as good a time as any to try him there, since Rich Aurilia is bothered by a mild groin injury and Ryan Rohlinger is batting .120 (3-for-25) in seven games at third base.

While Aurilia has nothing to prove, Rohlinger is a rookie -- like Sandoval -- who's striving to establish himself. Bochy said that Sandoval's presence at third had less to do with Rohlinger's shortcomings and was "more of a reflection of trying to do all we can to get Sandoval in there." Bochy added that Sandoval might catch Saturday to rest Bengie Molina in a day game after a night game.

Bochy has found Sandoval receptive to playing anywhere.

"What I like about him is you mention it, he's all for it," Bochy said. "There's no hesitation. He wants to play."

Sandoval admitted that he might have to adjust to the speed of the game.

"It's the Major Leagues," he said.

Bochy acknowledged that Sandoval conceivably could have a role next season as a backup to Molina who fills in at the infield corners. Auditions such as Friday's will help demonstrate whether Sandoval can handle that type of duty.

Sandoval was quite a handyman during his Minor League career, as his record shows: 33 games at catcher in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2004; 70 games at third base, one at first base and one at catcher with short-season Class A Salem-Keizer in 2005; 93 games at first base and 21 at third with Class A Augusta in 2006; 59 games at catcher and 42 at first with Class A San Jose last year; and 83 at catcher and 19 at first this season with San Jose and Double-A Connecticut combined.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.