Arias taking advantage of improved health

Arias taking advantage of improved health

MILWAUKEE -- It's legitimate to wonder why Joaquin Arias, who has helped the Giants weather the absence of third baseman Pablo Sandoval, has played for five organizations in 11 professional seasons.

The answer, as is so often the case, is health.

Arias underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in July 2007, causing observers to question his ability to throw. Until then he had been a fairly promising prospect.

"He's a pretty well-known commodity," Bobby Evans, the Giants' vice president of baseball operations, said.

Watching Arias play for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League convinced the Giants that he could throw adequately from any infield position. Of course, several other teams reached a similar conclusion. But Arias chose the Giants, though he couldn't have known at the time that Ryan Theriot would sign with San Francisco -- which conceivably could have relegated Arias to Triple-A all season -- or that Sandoval would fracture his left hamate bone.

"He wanted to be sure that this was a legitimate opportunity to contribute," Evans said. "At that point we hadn't signed Theriot, but it was clear there were some windows of opportunity where he could get a utility role."