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Belt or Pence likely to replace Scutaro in No. 2 spot

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence are the candidates whom manager Bruce Bochy is considering most for the batting order's No. 2 spot.

The absence of second baseman Marco Scutaro, who's enduring back problems, has temporarily robbed the Giants of a prototypical second hitter who can bunt, hit behind baserunners and execute the hit-and-run. So Bochy is leaning toward the contemporary -- and often successful -- approach of using an offensive dynamo in the second spot. Players who frequently or primarily hit second last year included the Angels' Mike Trout, the Yankees' Carlos Beltran, Oakland's Josh Donaldson, Seattle's Robinson Cano, Minnesota's Joe Mauer, Detroit's Torii Hunter and Baltimore's Manny Machado.

Asked if trends have altered the No. 2-hitter prototype, Bochy said Friday, "I'd say, yeah, it's changed a little bit. You're trying to get the best lineup at the top of the order that's going to get you runs. It makes sense to have one of your better hitters up there."

Friday night against the A's, that choice was Belt, coming off his best all-around season. He said that batting second doesn't faze him.

"I've hit third most of my career," he said. "Hitting second is not that much different. I'm still trying to get on base. There are still opportunities to drive in runs. There are going to be opportunities to score runs. You just have to go out there with the same mindset and take advantage of it."

Bochy added that he wouldn't rule out using Joaquin Arias or Brandon Crawford, hitters who fit a more traditional No. 2 hitter's profile, in that berth.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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