SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have become accustomed to excellence at first base, but this year they'll settle for mere competence.At third base, they'll settle for almost anything or anybody at the current rate.
San Francisco Giants
Barring further roster moves, Rich Aurilia will be the leading alternative to Ortmeier. Capable of playing every infield position, Aurilia spent most of his time in 2007 at first base, where he started 42 games.This year could be different for Aurilia, who hit a subpar .252 while being bothered by neck and hamstring injuries last season. If the Giants don't make a significant acquisition at third base, Aurilia, 36, will likely receive a chance to establish himself there. He started 21 games at third last year and 39 there in 2006 with Cincinnati, so he knows his way around the position. So does utilityman Kevin Frandsen, who'll compete with Ray Durham to start at second base. Frandsen, named the Western Athletic Conference's best defensive third baseman in 2003 at San Jose State, started four games at third last season and could emerge as a factor there if both he and Durham prove worthy of starting. Frandsen, who hit .269 overall, made his case to play somewhere in 2008 by hitting .370 last September. Immediate reinforcements from the Minor Leagues aren't forthcoming. Angel Villalona, the 17-year-old Dominican signed to a club-record $2.1 million bonus in 2006, projects as either a third or first baseman, but probably will need at least two or three more years of Minor League experience. First baseman Travis Ishikawa, who sparkled in a 2005 cameo appearance with the Giants (.292), batted only .214 at Double-A Connecticut last year. Lance Niekro, the Giants' Opening Day first baseman in 2006 who was designated for assignment last May, became a Minor League free agent after hitting .301 in 47 games at Triple-A Fresno.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.