Don’t let Steven Duggar’s age or major league inexperience fool you. The Giants’ 24-year-old center fielder feels right at home in the big leagues and his latest performance is evidence of that. Duggar was a sparkplug for the Giants in the team’s 7-1 win over the A’s. It was the first of a six-game series that has started before and will finish after the All-Star break.
Duggar went 2-for-4 and finished with three runs, two RBIs, two doubles and a walk in the game. Even his first plate appearance, an 11-pitch at-bat that resulted in a groundout, was valuable in getting A’s starter Edwin Jackson out of the ballgame by the sixth inning. Once Jackson exited, the Giants piled on five runs in the seventh and eighth innings, with Duggar providing a two-run double and a run on a wild pitch. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Duggar was the main catalyst for the Giants’ offense.
“With Duggar, he was in the middle of everything today,” Bochy said. “All the rallies, (he) got the big hit to break it open and the first at-bat was a good at-bat. And he’s just going to get more and more comfortable up here. He looks like he’s comfortable already from the get-go and he’s thrown out some good at-bats, played good defense and (it was) just a really nice ballgame by him.”
After his performance, Duggar spoke with the humility that you’d hope from a young player surrounded by a group of championship-winning veterans.
“There are still things I need to work on,” Duggar said. “I never feel like I’ve arrived, there’s always this journey. So for me, once I got the first hit out of the way, it was just trying to slow it down and being as consistent as I could.”
In three of his first four games, Duggar has started in the leadoff spot. It’s a slot that he said he feels comfortable in after being placed there for the most of his career. He added that having All-Star caliber players allows him to focus solely on putting himself in opportunities to score.
“I think the emphasis is just to get on base,” Duggar said. “Work a good at-bat, lead off the game, again, just try and find a way on, because the guys we have behind me are All-Stars. They swing it, they’ve been up here for awhile.”
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Cubs, Bochy said he had confidence in Duggar’s ability against left-handed pitchers, despite hitting .175 against lefties with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats this season. In Duggar’s three previous seasons in the minors, he hit .303 against lefties and said he is aware of, but unphased by his perceived weakness against left-handed pitching.
“The lefty-righty, that stuff, to me, it’s just another guy on the mound,” Duggar said. “It’s another arm.”
When asked if he thought he might be pinch-hit for when the A’s used left-handed reliever Jeremy Bleich, Duggar’s answer was simple.
“No,” Duggar said. “If that was (Bochy’s) decision, then that was it. I was locked in, ready to go. I had a feeling they were going to go to that lefty in the pen. When I was in the hole, if the bases did end up being loaded, I just tried to mentally prepare for that.”
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