The Two Gold Glove Center Fielders Steven Duggar Always Watched Growing Up

Not Madison Bumgarner. Not Buster Posey. Not even the new stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. 

No, the talk of Giants spring training has been a 24-year-old center fielder who started last season in the Arizona Rookie League thanks to elbow and hamstring injuries. Whether it's a diving catch or crushing a home run off the Dodgers, everyone wants to know what Steven Duggar will do for his next act. 

Based off his looks, build and ability, Bruce Bochy sees a young Steve Finley in Duggar. He didn't reveal who he tries to be like, but the two players Duggar couldn't keep his eyes off as a child make sense when you see him glide in the outfield. 

"I watched Andruw Jones a good bit just because I'm from South Carolina and he was playing with the Braves. I always liked Jim Edmonds too. Those two guys. It was a lot of fun to watch them play," Duggar said Thursday on KNBR

As he looks to force his way on to the Opening Day roster as a rookie, the former Clemson Tiger is just trying to be himself every day. 

"I just try to be the best player I can be in my own way," Duggar says. 

The Giants are moving McCutchen, the former National League Most Valuable Player, to right field this season. In doing so, Hunter Pence will slide to left field. Both these moves certainly had Duggar's future in center field in mind. Between the two players Duggar watched the most as a kid, Jones (10) and Edmonds (8) combined for 18 Gold Glove awards. Finely won five. 

"I just take a great deal of pride into defense. I enjoy going out to center field. I got the best view in the house. I see everything in front of me. Just getting some good breaks on ball, tracking them down, just playing fundamental defense," Duggar said. "I feel like defense and pitching is what wins. If we can be good at that, then we're all set."

While Duggar prides himself on defense and the scouting report on him has always put his glove ahead of his bat, Duggar is making noise at the plate too. Heading in Thursday's slate of spring training games, Duggar is hitting .350 with three home runs and a .409 on-base percentage in eight games. 

The Giants signed veteran center fielder Austin Jackson this offseason. They also brought back Gregor Blanco on a minor-league deal, and Austin Slater and Gorkys Hernandez will vie for time. And still, plenty have already pegged Duggar into the Opening Day lineup. 

Instead of add to expectations, the youngster of the bunch is taking a different, day-by-day mindset. 

"It truly is one day at a time," Duggar said. "Whatever happened the day before, whatever happened the previous days, you turn the page. Wake up, you go through your drills with one focus and that's to be the best player you can be that day. Whatever I can do to help the team win. That's kind of how I approach things."

So far, that's worked. It's one day at a time for Duggar, and his days in center field at AT&T Park will come sooner than later. Only time will tell if flashes of a Finley, Jones or Edmonds will join him.

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