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01/05/10 4:18 PM EST

Uribe's return to Giants sealed

Infielder could become team's everyday third baseman

SAN FRANCISCO -- Juan Uribe ended last season playing regularly for the Giants. He just might begin this season in an everyday role, too.

Ideally, Uribe would remain in a "super-utility" role, capable of filling in at every infield position except first base. He'd probably play frequently off the bench, particularly since second baseman Freddy Sanchez and shortstop Edgar Renteria are coming off surgeries and might need periodic rest.

But Giants general manager Brian Sabean outlined a scenario in which Uribe, whose one-year, $3.25 million deal became official Tuesday, could join the lineup. The Giants are seeking a left-handed hitter, preferably an outfielder, to complement the batting order and strengthen the offense. If they fall short of this goal, Sabean said that Uribe could occupy third base and free-agent acquisition Mark DeRosa could play left field.

Uribe excelled at shortstop after Renteria, hampered by soreness in both shoulders and an ailing right elbow, was sidelined in mid-September. But manager Bruce Bochy quashed the suggestion of a Spring Training competition between the pair. Renteria, who signed a two-year, $18.5 million contract before last season, is apparently recovering smoothly from elbow surgery and will keep his job.

"I think we're going to see a different player," a confident Bochy said of Renteria.

The Giants would settle for the same Uribe. A .257 lifetime hitter in 1,108 games, Uribe furthered the Giants' bid for the National League Wild Card postseason berth last year by batting .289 with 16 home runs, 55 RBIs and a .495 slugging percentage. The nine-year veteran appeared in 38 games at second base, 41 games at shortstop and 44 at third.

Uribe was most effective in the stretch drive, hitting .317 with 11 homers and 26 RBIs while starting 40 of San Francisco's last 43 games. The 30-year-old also established himself as a valuable clubhouse presence with his impregnable confidence and enduring sense of humor.

"We appreciate his versatility and attitude, which was infectious," Sabean said. "He deserved a shot to come back here and play as much, if not more, and help contribute."

To clear room on the 40-man roster for Uribe, the Giants designated infielder Brian Bocock for assignment. Bocock, San Francisco's Opening Day shortstop in 2008, batted a combined .230 with three homers and 51 RBIs in 122 games last season at Class A San Jose and Double-A Connecticut.

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