SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Having a frank discussion with second baseman Ray Durham, who faces fierce competition from Kevin Frandsen for a starting role, will be high on manager Bruce Bochy's priority list when position players report to camp Monday.
Bochy has stated to reporters that Durham, 36, will begin Spring Training no better than even with Frandsen in a tug-of-war that could last until the team breaks camp March 25. Durham probably realizes this already, after slumping to a .218 batting average last year while Frandsen hit .370 in September (.269 overall).
Bochy doubted that mechanical flaws or bat speed plagued Durham.
"I think more than anything, the year just didn't go well for him and it snowballed," Bochy said Sunday. "The harder he worked at it, the tougher it got. ... That's what separates your average player from your good player; they're able to put that behind them. That's what Ray has to do."
Bochy also probably wants to reinforce the confidence that helped Durham thrive in 2006. That's when Durham hit .293 with 26 home runs and 93 RBIs to earn the two-year, $14.5 million contract that expires after this season.
"What a dangerous hitter he is," Bochy said. Recalling the experience of managing for San Diego against Durham, Bochy said, "When you were on the opposing team that year, you went over Ray Durham quite a bit because everybody knew how well he was swinging the bat and how dangerous he was. You couldn't just focus on Barry [Bonds] because the guy behind him was doing a lot of damage. He was locked in at the plate, using the whole field, driving the ball."
Although shortstop Omar Vizquel isn't certain of playing in 2009, he definitely wants to return to the Venezuelan team for next spring's World Baseball Classic. In 2006, Venezuela split its six games and fell short of advancing to the semifinals.
"If I get picked, I will [play]," Vizquel said. "That has been one of my greatest experiences, being around all the best players from every country. It was beautiful to see everybody come together as a team."
Bochy said that he expected every position player to report to camp Monday as scheduled. Most are already here, with outfielder Nate Schierholtz among Sunday's arrivals. ... During what's expected to be an abbreviated workout Monday, pitchers will not throw off bullpen mounds, resting their arms for Tuesday's first full-squad workout.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.