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Velez, Lewis get home opener starts

Velez, Lewis get home opener starts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' youth was again evident in their home opener Monday against the San Diego Padres as second baseman Eugenio Velez, 25, and right fielder Fred Lewis, 27, were in the starting lineup.

Initially, the emphasis on fresh-faced players was even more pronounced with Lewis replacing Dave Roberts in left field. But Roberts re-entered the lineup when right fielder Randy Winn was scratched due to lingering soreness in his right ankle, which he bruised on a backswing Saturday.

"I found out I wasn't playing, then I found out I was playing," Roberts said. "Expect the unexpected."

Last week, manager Bruce Bochy opted to use Durham and Roberts, who possess much more experience than the rookie Velez and the near-rookie Lewis, against veteran pitchers Brad Penny and Derek Lowe of Los Angeles. This scenario presented itself again Monday against Greg Maddux, San Diego's scheduled starter. Durham owns a .250 lifetime average against Maddux (6-for-24), while Roberts was hitting .320 (8-for-25) off the future Hall of Famer entering the game. Neither Velez nor Lewis has faced Maddux.

Since then, however, Velez has maintained his standing as being perhaps San Francisco's most dynamic player, hitting .278 with a triple and a stolen base entering Monday. Bochy also noted that Durham, who's hitting .188, is still enduring discomfort in his left shoulder which he fell on last Wednesday at Los Angeles.

"It bothers him more from the left side," Bochy said of Durham, a switch-hitter who would have batted left-handed against Maddux.

Lewis was hitting only .111 (1-for-9) this season as Monday began, but in explaining his presence in the lineup, Bochy reiterated his announced intent to play him more frequently. Bochy also related the need to rest Roberts occasionally to preserve the 35-year-old's balky left knee.

Center fielder Aaron Rowand returned to the lineup after missing two games with bruised left ribs, but his condition remained questionable. Bochy said that X-rays Rowand underwent remained inconclusive for the second day in a row and raised the possibility that the Giants' leading hitter (.385) might need an MRI examination after the game to provide more definitive answers.

Chris Haft 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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