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Sandoval penciled in fifth to ease pressure

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SAN DIEGO -- Attempting to stimulate the Giants' stagnant offense, manager Bruce Bochy dropped third baseman Pablo Sandoval from third to fifth in the batting order Saturday.

Bochy hoped that the change would relieve the switch-hitting slugger of self-imposed pressure caused by his early-season struggles. Sandoval entered Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres batting .179 with two home runs and six RBIs. He also had one hit in his last 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Bochy probably would have made this move on Friday, but resting Buster Posey and Michael Morse forced him to bat Sandoval fourth -- only one position below the spot he customarily occupies. Before that, Sandoval hit third in the season's first 16 games.

"He needs some success here," Bochy said of Sandoval before the game. "Maybe this will take a little pressure off him to get him going. I think he's pressing a little bit."

Sandoval hit .290 in 106 career appearances batting fifth, including 105 starts, before Saturday.

Sandoval's not the only struggling hitter for the Giants, who entered the game with two runs in their past 19 innings and four runs in their last 26 innings. Bochy has seen his players swing anxiously at pitches that aren't strikes.

"If they're expanding the zone, you can't take a good swing, and they're going to be off-balance," Bochy said.

That has been especially evident with Sandoval. "There's such a fine line between being yourself -- Pablo's aggressive -- and overdoing it," Bochy said.

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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