Adrianza Steadily Improving

Shortstop showing value with his bat





SAN FRANCISCO—There was nothing physically wrong with Ehire Adrianza when he sat out the final game of the regular season at high Class A San Jose.

Manager Andy Skeels wanted to protect Adrianza's .300 average—a hard-fought benchmark for a dynamic young shortstop who had been challenged to compete at the plate.

Adrianza missed the first six weeks of the season after surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament he sustained toward the end of spring training while sliding into a base. The switch-hitter ended up repeating the Cal League, which might have turned into a positive as he gained confidence against high Class A pitching.

"There's a value in encountering hardships and figuring out if you really want to do this," Skeels said. "You have to say, 'I've got to beat the league that I'm in.' He worked. His approach at the plate was a lot better. He looked like a hitter (last) year, his understanding of the game and situational hitting got better. I was very impressed with him."

Adrianza's value always has been tied to his glove. There's never been any doubt he can be a star defender with his plus range, superbly soft hands, ultra-quick transfer and accurate arm. Most Cal League managers ranked him as the best defensive infielder in the league; fellow Venezuelan Omar Vizquel, another switch-hitter who supposedly wouldn't hit enough to stick in the big leagues, is among Adrianza's fans.

Although Adrianza is 22, the Giants are still hopeful he will get stronger while tightening up his lefthanded swing.

"He will never look like Brandon Crawford, but we were looking to see if he'd wear down and he actually played well in August and September," Skeels said. "It's an indication he is getting stronger."

GIANTICS

• Alex Burg was so keen on playing this winter that he traveled all the way Down Under. The catcher/infieler was leading the Australian League with 10 home runs through 32 games.

• Catcher Drew Stiner received a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a banned substance under the minor league drug prevention and treatment program. Stiner was a 43rd-round pick out of Owasso (Okla.) High who was committed to Oklahoma State before signing with the Giants.