SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' starting infield for 2009 remains undetermined and unsettled, with one notable exception. General manager Brian Sabean asserted Sunday that he's projecting Emmanuel Burriss as the starting shortstop as the offseason nears. The switch-hitting Burriss, 23, who has eclipsed 41-year-old Omar Vizquel as the team's primary shortstop, entered Sunday's series finale against Pittsburgh batting .355 (22-for-62) with eight RBIs in his previous 20 games. "He's come a long way," Sabean said of Burriss, who played Class A last year and began this season at Triple-A Fresno. "He's more confident defensively. He's certainly done well with the bat -- he's probably exceeded some expectations -- and his arm's gotten better. ... He plugs that position, as far as I'm concerned."
Burriss' emergence will enable the Giants to focus more heavily on other priorities, most notably finding a power-hitting corner infielder. "You guys know the price of doing business in the market. You're not going to get a shortstop and solve your other needs, too," Sabean said. Barely more than a month ago, Burriss was included among the crowded field of candidates for the second-base job. But since starting 24 games at second from July 27-Aug. 27, Burriss has made eight of his last nine starts at shortstop. Sabean was less definite about the Giants' chances of filling their second-base vacancy from within. Contenders include Eugenio Velez, Ivan Ochoa, Travis Denker and Kevin Frandsen, who's recovering from a ruptured left Achilles tendon. "Franny's the wild card," Sabean said. "Anything he does this year, we won't critically analyze or evaluate. We're going to have to wait until Spring Training and see how it looks. Anything he does on the field, whether it's in instructional league or if we brought him up here for the end, would be a bonus." Sabean also sounded duly impressed after watching catcher Buster Posey play Saturday night with Class A San Jose in a California League playoff game. It was Sabean's first opportunity to see Posey perform in the flesh since the Giants selected him fifth overall in June's First-Year Player Draft. "He was as advertised," Sabean said. "He caught and threw exceptionally well, threw a runner out easily, blocked the ball, caught third strikes." Sabean added that Posey demonstrated power, discipline and plate coverage while going 1-for-4 with an RBI single. But Sabean said that the Giants won't summon Posey to the Majors, as they have done with third baseman Conor Gillaspie, their sandwich pick in this year's Draft. "We've already got that position spoken for, at least for this year," Sabean said. "It would be counterproductive for the people here, not for him. He might have good experience here, but with Bengie [Molina], [Pablo] Sandoval and [Steve] Holm, there's no reason to experiment. We need to experiment more at third base."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.