SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a day late last month that confused some in the Giants clubhouse. Donovan Solano was optioned back to Triple-A so the Giants could temporarily carry a 14th pitcher, but it wasn't that odd roster alignment that seemed to baffle the teammates who walked up to Solano in the clubhouse and asked what had happened.
The 31-year-old has impressed with a quiet work ethic and solid skills. A few Giants have noted over the past month that Solano has been a nice presence as a backup infielder, and on Wednesday he finally took center stage.
Solano hit leadoff with a lefty starter on the mound and drove in the tying run in the fifth before adding an insurance run in the seventh inning of a 4-2 win over the Padres. He has proven to be a dependable defender, perhaps one of the more sure-handed ones Brandon Crawford has had as a backup, and is doing what the Giants intended at the plate.
Solano was called up from Triple-A because the Giants felt he could give them a lefty-mashing option behind Crawford and Joe Panik. With hits off Joey Lucchesi and Robbie Erlin on Wednesday, Solano now is 9-for-23 (.391) against lefties.
"He gives you a good at-bat against lefties and allows you to rest Panik or Crawford," manager Bruce Bochy said after the win Wednesday. "Their (starter), his splits were really significant with lefties and righties. He has a funky delivery so he can be really tough on lefties. I thought Donovan put together a nice game."
The veteran's contributions helped back another strong effort from Shaun Anderson, who is quickly turning into a workhorse for a rotation that desperately needed another one. Anderson gave up two earned in six innings, striking out six. He has three consecutive quality starts and has totaled 19 innings in three June starts, a far cry from what Bochy got from much of his rotation the prior month.
"It's good to see this kid get on a roll like this," Bochy said.
Anderson has locked himself into the rotation, and Solano looks poised to grab the bench spot behind Crawford and Panik. The Giants wanted him to carve out the specialist role and he has, something that's not a surprise to Anderson, his Triple-A teammate at the start of the year.
"Everybody said it, he needed to be on the big league team," Anderson said. "He can play his position and he can swing it. He's just a great guy in the clubhouse, brings a lot of energy. It's fun to play with him."