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Giants Spring Training quick hits

Giants Spring Training quick hits

2006 record
76-85, third place, National League West

Projected batting order
1. CF Dave Roberts:
.293 3 HR, 40 RBI for Padres in 2006
2. SS Omar Vizquel:
.295, 4 HR, 58 RBI in 2006
3. RF Randy Winn:
.262, 11 HR, 56 RBI in 2006
4. LF Barry Bonds:
.270, 26 HR, 77 RBI in 2006
5. 2B Ray Durham:
.293, 26 HR, 93 RBI in 2006
6. C Bengie Molina:
.284, 19 HR, 57 RBI for Blue Jays in 2006
7. 1B Rich Aurilia:
.300, 23 HR, 70 RBI for Reds in 2006
8. 3B Pedro Feliz:
.244, 22 HR, 96 RBI in 2006

Projected rotation
1. LHP Barry Zito, 16-10, 3.83 ERA for A's in 2006
2. RHP Matt Cain, 13-12, 4.15 ERA in 2006
3. RHP Matt Morris, 10-15, 4.98 ERA in 2006
4. LHP Noah Lowry, 7-10, 4.74 ERA in 2006
5. LHP Jonathan Sanchez, 3-1, 4.95 ERA in 2006
5. RHP Russ Ortiz, 0-8, 8.15 ERA for Orioles and D-Backs in 2006

Projected bullpen
Closer: Armando Benitez, 17 saves, 3.52 ERA in 2006
RH setup man: Brian Wilson, 5.40 ERA in 2006
LH setup man: Steve Kline, 3.66 ERA in 2006

The new guys
Zito: Signed to a seven-year contract for $126 million, he replaces ace Jason Schmidt. Zito has never missed a start and, at 28, is the franchise's new face.

Roberts: Signed to a three-year deal for $18 million, he will revitalize leadoff spot with his speed. Roberts is coming off an excellent offensive season at San Diego and is a good defender, but he must avoid leg problems.

Aurilia: Ostensibly a first sacker, the versatile free-agent signee (two years, $8 million) will also float to other positions. His range has declined, but Aurilia is still a good hitter.

Molina: He was the best available free-agent catcher, signing for three years, $16 million. Molina is a lifetime .275 hitter and two-time Gold Glover and will replace the retiring Mike Matheny.

Ortiz: At 31, the veteran is hoping to rebound from two subpar seasons that were wrought with injury and poor mechanics. Arizona ate $20 million after cutting him, and the Giants were able to ink him for only $380,000. Well worth the gamble.

1B Ryan Klesko: If he plays well after recovering from shoulder surgery at San Diego last year, Klesko could usurp Aurilia at first. At the least, the left-handed slugger should be a power spark off the bench.

Prospects to watch
RHP Tim Linceum: After a super strikeout campaign as a rookie, the right-hander could vault onto the roster with a solid spring. Overflowing with potential, the team's top draft pick in 2006 has been groomed as a starter, but he may relieve if he sticks with the Giants.

CF Fred Lewis: He has taken time to evolve into a good hitter in the Minors but had a brief successful stint with the Giants in September. Lewis has good speed and an improving glove, and he is blessed with outstanding athleticism.

RHP Billy Sadler: The right-handed reliever could become a surprise addition to the bullpen this season after outstanding showings at Double-A Connecticut and Triple-A Fresno.

Returning from injury
Bonds: The slugger had offseason elbow surgery to remove bone fragments and supposedly did extensive legwork to build up his lower-body strength after multiple knee surgeries.

Benitez: His return is still uncertain after rehabbing his arthritic knees all winter. Benitez will show up early to camp and the veteran closer must impress.

Lowry: He battled an oblique (side) muscle strain all season but should be healthier and stronger in 2007.

On the rebound
Ortiz: Has the former 21-game winner for Atlanta revitalized his game? Ortiz was an ace for the Giants from 1999-2002, but he hit the skids the past two seasons, going 5-19 with a 7.33 ERA with three teams.

Long gone
Matheny: Ironman catcher was forced to retire at age 34 after 13 seasons due to post-concussion syndrome.

RHP Tim Worrell: Neck and shoulder injuries forced the right-handed reliever into retirement.

OF Moises Alou: Leg injuries curtailed the outfielder's two seasons with the Giants, but he hopes to rebound with the Mets.

OF Steve Finley: He had one of his poorest seasons as part-time outfielder in 2006 and was not re-signed.

C Todd Greene: Chronic injury to his right shoulder hurt Greene's game, and he will be in Padres' Minor League camp.

1B Shea Hillenbrand: He didn't fit into Giants plans after spending half a season at first base. Hillenbrand signed with the Angels.

Schmidt: Longtime ace signed long-term deal with the Dodgers.

LHP Mike Stanton: He was invaluable as the Giants' closer down the stretch in 2006, but he signed with the Reds.

RHP Jamey Wright: He made the roster as a the fifth starter last year but eventually struggled. Wright is now with the Rangers as a spring invite.

2006 hitting leaders (min. 200 at-bats)
Avg: Alou, .301
OBP: Bonds, .454
SLG: Alou, .571
Runs: Vizquel, 88
RBI: Feliz, 98
Hits: Vizquel, 171
2B: Feliz, 35
3B: Finley, 12
HR: Bonds, Durham, 26
SB: Vizquel, 24
2006 pitching leaders (min. 30 IP)
IP: Schmidt, 213 1/3
W: Cain, 13
L: Morris, 15
Win %: Rick Bauer, .750
S: Benitez, 17
ERA: Kevin Correia, 3.49
K: Schmidt, 180
K/9 IP: Cain, 8.45
WHIP: Schmidt, 1.26

Triple play: Three questions that need answers
1. What is Bonds' health status?
We'll find out when Bonds reports to camp. Supposedly, he's been working out all winter building strength in those valuable legs, trying to get leaner. He's been fairly passive in recent springs due to age and those surgically repaired knees, but the Giants need him at full power when the bell rings.

2. What about Benitez?
The Giants have a backup plan and will use Wilson as the closer if Benitez's health and so-so pitching don't make comebacks. Benitez has been a disappointment, and he could eventually be traded.

3. Who's the fifth starter?
Young lefty Sanchez is only 24 but owns a sneaky quick fastball and a strong mound presence. He was the odds-on favorite until veteran Ortiz entered the picture. Ortiz fell on hard times the past two season, but he says his mechanics and mind-set are once again in tune.

The bottom line
This should be a better season -- by far -- for the Giants. Bonds is healthier, Roberts brings speed and pizzazz at the top, Cain is still developing as a pitcher, the bench is stronger and the starters are more versatile. Hopefully, there won't be a spate of injuries among the regulars, but new player-friendly manager Bruce Bochy will get the most out of his team. Still, the bullpen must hold up its end.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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