C.J. Hinojosa Finds His Passion

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Talk with C.J Hinojosa for a just few minutes and one thing becomes eminently clear:
“I love playing the game of baseball,” the 22-year-old infielder said. “It’s just a passion I have.”

That passion helped him find a kindred spirit and mentor in Hunter Pence, the Giants’ right fielder with whom Hinojosa did some offseason workouts in the Houston area.

“It’s awesome to see somebody who’s been in the league for as long as he has still so passionate about the game,” Hinojosa said. “He’s just been an awesome role model.”

The Giants drafted Hinojosa from the Texas in the 11th round in 2015. He hit .274/.348/.393 with nine home runs and 53 RBIs splitting last season between high Class A San Jose and Double-A Richmond.

“I think his bat shows promise,” general manager Bobby Evans said. “He’s just an all-around player. He’s a gamer. He’s an energizing part of every club.”

Listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Hinojosa has played shortstop exclusively as a pro but that figures to change in 2017.
The Giants have a two-time Gold Glover at short in Brandon Crawford, and Hinojosa can enhance his value by becoming versatile defensively.

Evans said the organization plans to try Hinojosa at second base or third–perhaps both–this year.

Considering his passion for the game, it’s no surprise Hinojosa said switching from shortstop won’t be a problem.

“Moving positions doesn’t bother me,” he said.

One other note about Christopher Jesse Hinojosa, specifically about the “C.J” spelling. The lack of a period after the “J” is not a misprint; it’s Hinojosa’s way of honoring his grandfather, Jesse, who died in 1999.

C.J said he used to spend lots of time with his grandfather in the Houston area.

“My grandfather and I were very, very close,” Hinojosa said. “He was my best friend.”


• The Giants signed reliever David Hernandez, 31, to a minor league deal just before the start of camp.

• The Giants won’t have the usual day off between the end of the exhibition season and the start of the regular season. They play their final exhibition game April 1, in Oakland, then open the season at Arizona on Sunday, April 2.

— Steve Kroner is a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle

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