Bowker earns right-field job for Giants

Bowker earns right-field job for Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Reflecting the Giants' desire for dynamic offense, manager Bruce Bochy selected John Bowker over Nate Schierholtz as the team's Opening Day right fielder on Sunday.

Bowker entered Sunday's exhibition finale against the Seattle Mariners with team highs in home runs (six) and RBIs (22), placing him among the Major League Spring Training leaders. He also was batting .307 with a .384 on-base percentage and a .627 slugging percentage in 27 games. By comparison, Schierholtz was hitting .262 with one home run, seven RBIs, a .304 on-base percentage and a .507 slugging percentage.

In announcing the decision, Bochy noted that Bowker not only produced offensively but also displayed "a lot of discipline at the plate" -- laying off pitches he frequently has chased.

Bowker's impulsive approach during his 2008-09 stints with the Giants partly accounts for the discrepancy between his Minor League statistics (.301 average, .369 on-base percentage, 71 homers in 542 games) and his San Francisco numbers (.244, .291, 12 homers in 142 games).

Schierholtz had the position virtually secured as Spring Training began. He's still considered superior to Bowker defensively, explaining why many observers believed he'd win the job. But while Schierholtz endured a pedestrian Cactus League season at the plate, Bowker flourished -- most notably in a split-squad game against Kansas City on March 24, when he drove in seven runs.

San Francisco Giants
Projected Opening Day lineup
1 CF Aaron Rowand
2 SS Edgar Renteria
3 3B Pablo Sandoval
4 1B Aubrey Huff
5 LF Mark DeRosa
6 C Bengie Molina
7 2B Juan Uribe
8 RF John Bowker
9 P Tim Lincecum
Projected rotation
1 RHP Tim Lincecum
2 LHP Barry Zito
3 RHP Matt Cain
4 LHP Jonathan Sanchez
5 RHP Todd Wellemeyer
Projected bullpen
CL RHP Brian Wilson
SU LHP Jeremy Affeldt
SU RHP Sergio Romo
MI RHP Guillermo Mota
MI RHP Brandon Medders
MI LHP Dan Runzler
MI RHP Kevin Pucetas
Full 25-man roster | Depth chart

"Johnny forced the issue with his spring, the way he swung the bat," Bochy said. "Nate got out of sync. ... Every time you put [Bowker] in there, he did something offensively. He's going to help provide some power."

Bochy also pointed out that Bowker, a left-handed batter, had some solid at-bats against left-handed pitchers. His two-run homer Saturday off Oakland's Gio Gonzalez served as a recent example.

Though Schierholtz was the No. 8 hitter in San Francisco's projected lineup, Bowker will occupy a loftier spot in the order when the Giants begin the regular season Monday at Houston.

"There's a good chance he will not be hitting eighth," said a grinning Bochy, who did not divulge specifics.

The Giants also made the following moves to reach the 25-man Opening Day active roster limit:

• Purchasing the contracts of right-handers Todd Wellemeyer and Guillermo Mota, who secured the final spot in the bullpen over right-hander Denny Bautista.

• Reassigning Bautista to Triple-A Fresno.

• Placing infielder Emmanuel Burriss (fractured left foot), second baseman Freddy Sanchez (left shoulder) and outfielder Fred Lewis (strained left side) on the 15-day disabled list. Burriss' and Sanchez's assignments are retroactive to March 26, while Lewis' is retroactive to March 27.

In choosing Mota over Bautista, Bochy cited the former's considerable experience in various bullpen roles. Mota has made 609 Major League appearances, compared to 100 for Bautista.

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