Ryan Theriot brings solid résumé to battle for Giants' middle-infield spot 

click to enlarge Ryan Theriot has plenty of postseason experience, but is still battling for a roster spot. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Ryan Theriot has plenty of postseason experience, but is still battling for a roster spot.

PHOENIX — In putting together a bench for the 2012 season, the Giants have one option with this heavy résumé:

- He’s a guy who knows the National League inside out, having played with three other NL teams since 2005.

- A player with plenty of postseason experience (60 plate appearances).

- Somebody with a reputation as a clutch hitter.

- And, oh, yes, a guy who started just last season for the World Series champs.

Ryan Theriot would put in another couple plugs.

“I stay ... knock on wood, healthy,” Theriot said. “I’ve traditionally been that way.”

Then, too: “Obviously, I can play all three infield positions.”

Put it all together and it would seem Theriot would be the leading candidate to back up young shortstop Brandon Crawford and banged-up second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

Said Theriot: “The key to have winning clubs and winning championships is to have guys like that on your team.”
Theriot is a .282 career hitter who started 91 games at shortstop and 35 at second for last year’s champs, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Manager Bruce Bochy pointed out the pluses of Theriot, though he did so while talking about the “difficult decisions” the Giants must make in the middle infield:

“He’s a good hitter. ... He’s been fairly consistent,” Bochy said. “He can play second, short or third. He’s a right-handed bat, which is a need here. And he’s a clutch hitter. He got some big hits for the Cardinals. He did well in the postseason.”

Especially important is that Theriot gives the Giants a right-handed option at the plate.

“That’s a need here,” Bochy said. “We know it. We’ve talked about it.”

In the final week of the spring, “We’re going to have to make some difficult decisions, particularly in the middle infield along with behind the plate, even the outfield,” Bochy said. “We have a little time, but we’re going to use this time before we make any decisions.”

In the case of the middle infield, Theriot, 32, has the greatest résumé among the reserves, while Mike Fontenot — Theriot’s teammate at LSU on the 2000 NCAA title team — and Emmanuel Burriss have enjoyed the better springs.

All three could make the Opening Day roster, particularly if Sanchez starts the season on the disabled list while trying to rehab his injured shoulder.

With Crawford’s inexperience, and Sanchez’s health in question, Theriot could be more than a backup.

In fact, Theriot says he chose to sign with the Giants this season (for $1.25 million) in part because, “I feel I could play one of those spots every day, no doubt about it.”

Theriot sees “a lot of similarities” between the Giants and Cardinals.

The team’s two managers is the lead case in point.

“Boch and Tony [La Russa] both demand respect,” Theriot said. “When they walk in a room, people take notice.”

When Bochy makes his final roster decisions, it’s Theriot who hopes that he — and his big-time résumé — will be noticed.

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Mike Tulumello

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