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02/24/10 7:05 PM EST
Frandsen in camp with new attitude
Infielder willing to accept whatever role Giants have for him
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Call it accountability; call it maturity. Either word fits Kevin Frandsen's renewed perspective. If a Major League veteran is blocking Frandsen's path to an everyday playing role, he won't dwell on it. He insisted that he'll shrug off an injury, even a serious one such as the ruptured Achilles tendon that sidelined him for almost the entire 2008 season. Frandsen's finished with such rationalizations, however legitimate they might be, for not having established himself with the Giants despite spending parts of the last four seasons with them. The true source of his fortunes, he said, is that familiar man in the mirror. "I have no excuses for anything," Frandsen said Wednesday. "It took awhile for me to realize that I was the problem. I was the one who was inconsistent when I came up here and didn't produce. It wasn't anyone else." Frandsen's current status is turned inside out compared with last year's. Despite coming off a season of near-total inactivity, save for an Arizona Fall League stint, Frandsen entered Spring Training 2009 with a chance to start at second base. But Emmanuel Burriss claimed the Opening Day job by outperforming Frandsen in the Cactus League. By contrast, Frandsen entered this spring thoroughly prepared, having played 154 games with Triple-A Fresno, the Giants and the Gigantes de Carolina in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Yet he appears to have almost no chance of playing every day. Juan Uribe is the likely replacement for injured Freddy Sanchez as San Francisco's Opening Day second baseman. This has forced Frandsen, 27, to compete for a utility role with Burriss and Ryan Rohlinger. He has a Minor League option remaining, leaving him vulnerable to another trip to Fresno. But, as Frandsen said, "You never know. I'm geared up to do whatever they ask me to do."Giants manager Bruce Bochy welcomed Frandsen's revamped attitude. "We all should hold ourselves responsible and accountable for our performance," Bochy said. "Franny, in fairness, hasn't had that golden opportunity where he's out there for two or three months, getting three or four at-bats each day. So it's a little tough for him. But for him to say that, it is maturity on his part. But you never stop holding yourself accountable to going out there and getting it done." Reflecting his makeover, Frandsen has switched his jersey number to 9 from 19, enabling pitching coach Dave Righetti to reclaim the latter number. Frandsen found peace after enduring what he described as a rocky 2009. Despite hitting a respectable .295 for Fresno, he said that he never reached stability at the plate. His struggles were exacerbated in four stints with the Giants, for whom he hit .140 in 23 games. Frandsen said that he fretted "about when I was going to get called up or if I was going to get called up. Or when I'd come back down. I didn't get consistent because of me. I did it to myself. I never stuck with the same stance for more than two weeks." Frandsen's turnaround began with the offseason. Watching postseason telecasts during the month before he reported to Puerto Rico, he studied bench players such as Eric Bruntlett and Jerry Hairston Jr., then with the Phillies and Yankees, respectively, and compared himself to them. "What's the difference between those guys and myself? They produce," said Frandsen, an ardent Giants fan while growing up in San Jose. "They're not putting up [big] numbers, but they're putting up numbers that matter in the win column. That's why the Yankees and Phillies were there [in the World Series]. I had to ask myself, 'What do I need to do?' The best thing I can do is produce with the bat when asked and play solid defense when Boch puts me in there." Frandsen also realized that he had closed his batting stance so much that the pitcher could see the numbers on the back of his jersey. "It worked for Julio Franco. It doesn't work for me," Frandsen said. Benefited by his adjusted stance and mindset, Frandsen hit .337 with a .396 on-base percentage in 21 games for Carolina. He played every game but one at second base. "To me, I started a new season there and found a lot of passion to play the game again," he said. Giants outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who also thrived with Carolina (.324 in 19 games), noticed Frandsen's rebirth. "Offensively and defensively, he was locked in," Schierholtz said. "He wasn't just hitting singles. He was hitting the ball off the wall. I hope [the Giants] have taken notice of that. I was very impressed."
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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.