As Giants Look to Future, a Couple of Bench Bats Keep Coming Up Big

OAKLAND -- The Giants have some big decisions to make before next opening day. They also have smaller decisions to make, and those are sometimes just as impactful. 

For years, the Giants have had a talent deficit on the bench. It shows up when players get hurt. It shows up when the weather heats up. It shows up when they spend a series with deeper teams, most notably the Dodgers.

To compete next season, the Giants will need to move around some big pieces, but they'll also need to be better equipped for the injuries and rest days of a long season. In that respect, Tuesday night's 10-4 win was a big one for two players.

Gorkys Hernandez hit leadoff and played center field. He had two hits, including a double. Over his last 36 games he's batting .327, raising his average to .260. He also showed off in center, making a running catch at the wall.

"Gorkys, what a job he's done," manager Bruce Bochy said. "In the early going I know there were questions about him and he wasn't playing much, but he's been one of our better players. You look at the way he's swinging the bat and you saw the range he has (in center)."

The Giants have always viewed Hernandez as a sort-of right-handed Gregor Blanco-type. It's possible that they'll look around this offseason and realize they are best off with his glove in center, which would allow for a power addition in left.

When the Giants look around for bench infielders this offseason, they probably shouldn't look too hard. Experience is always welcome, but Tomlinson continues to contribute. He reached three times Tuesday and scored twice while handling all his chances in left. He's batting .261 with a .330 on-base percentage, numbers that are more than acceptable from a bench bat. He's also a .344 batter as a pinch-hitter. 

"Tommy, he's showing his versatility by doing a good job in left," Bochy said. 

Of course, these two are primarily viewed by management as bench bats. They're extremely helpful to winning teams, but the Giants need the big guns, too. Brandon Belt hit his 17th homer and Hunter Pence added a huge insurance blast. Nick Hundley's first-inning homer was one of a season-high-tying three.

Bochy said Hensley Meuelens has been working with select regulars to try and add a little more pull-power. The Giants have fallen behind the rest of baseball, but they feel there's more power in this roster. They'd like to join the home run revolution, too. 

"You don't do it with all of them," Bochy said of swing adjustments. "You don't cookie-cutter hitters. But with guys you think can handle it and do it, it's okay to do it."

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