Noonan inching closer to earning roster spot

Noonan inching closer to earning roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Nick Noonan strengthened his bid for the remaining utility infielder's spot on the Giants' Opening Day roster with a strong overall effort Monday.

Noonan started at third base in the Giants' 9-3 Cactus League victory over the Chicago Cubs and rescued Ryan Vogelsong from a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth inning. Noonan ended the threat by spearing Alberto Gonzalez's sharp grounder, which appeared destined to be a two-run single, and throwing to first for the out.

"That was nice. That was a really good play," Vogelsong said. "It seems like he handles himself well. I'll play with whoever they put out there, to be honest with you. But it looks like he's having some good at-bats and playing some good defense, too."

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "Defense is so important. As you know, we're [all about] pitching and defense. Hitting is nice, but we have to catch the ball. He's [originally] a shortstop. Those guys are usually more comfortable playing third and second. He's athletic."

Noonan also doubled twice in five at-bats and scored two runs. Optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 15, the left-handed batter received a second chance to prove himself beginning last Thursday, when infielder Kensuke Tanaka was reassigned to Minor League camp.

"He's getting a lot thrown at him and I like the way he's handling it," Bochy said of Noonan, 23.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.