By Evan Brunell
Given the depth of the Giants' outfielders, Nate Schierholtz's job was in danger in spring training. The five-year veteran was able to hold onto a spot, though, and the defensive specialist quickly became relevant when injuries and poor play struck.
With Schierholtz's 3-for-6 night in the books Wednesday, it raised his overall season line to .274/.319/.453, which is above-average production for an outfielder and further evidence that his .676 OPS in 227 plate appearances last season was an aberration. As Aubrey Huff put it to the San Jose Mercury News, Schierholtz is blossoming into a major-leaguer.
The knock against Schierholtz has always been his production against right-handers, as his career .693 OPS against righties can attest to. He's always hit lefties in the minors and over his career in the majors (strange, given he's a left-hander), but he has never really received a chance to stick in the starting lineup against left-handers. And he hasn't done himself any favors by collecting just three hits against lefties in 17 plate appearances.
However, his offensive production against righties is making it hard to keep him out of the lineup on a full-time basis, and Pat Burrell's skid into irrelevancy has opened a door -- manager Bruce Bochy says Schierholtz will begin to receive more playing time. The Giants have hit a bit of a skid. They're a half-game behind the Diamondbacks entering Thursday, and they have to deal with losing Buster Posey for the season, so S.F. has to find a way to upgrade the lineup where it can. That upgrade could be Schierholtz.
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