SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have shuffled plenty of players in and out of the lineup this season, particularly in the outfield. But when it comes to their 25-year-old center fielder, they're willing to let Steven Duggar take his lumps.
Duggar's defense is such a plus that he brings something to the table on a nightly basis even when he's slumping. And as the staff has watched him try and adjust to big league pitching, there hasn't been much concern about the mental side of the game.
"The thing you love about him is how even-keel he is every single day," assistant hitting coach Rick Schu said.
Duggar comes to make adjustments every day, and while his numbers are down from his rookie year, the Giants plan to keep running him out there -- he leads the team in at-bats -- and feel he has shown improvement over the last week after making swing changes. Duggar has worked to shorten up at the plate, and he had a nice two-game swing with the Padres, hitting a two-run shot on Tuesday and scoring twice Wednesday, when his speed was on full display.
In his second at-bat of that game, Duggar hit a slow roller up the middle and ended up on second when a ball was thrown away, scoring a few moments later on a single to left. In his third at-bat he topped one 20 feet in front of the plate and again ended up on second when the ball was thrown away.
The speed has at times helped a struggling lineup, but for the most part Duggar has been disappointed by his first two months as a locked-in starter. His OPS is down 51 points, his strikeout rate remains near 30 percent, and he has just one stolen base. The adjustment to the big leagues is a tough one.
"I was telling somebody the other day, you get one pitch an at-bat, maybe. If you miss that pitch, you've got to go into battle mode," Duggar said on this week's Giants Insider Podcast. "It's tough to hit when you're behind in the count, it's tough to hit when you start missing pitches you should be hitting. It's just trying to grow from that and try to get better every day.
"We all run into slumps every now and then and you get in your own way sometimes, but at the end of the day, hard work and smart work gives you a better chance to succeed."
Duggar went in depth about the highs and lows of this first half, and what he is trying to enjoy about big league life. You can stream the podcast here or download it on iTunes here.