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Giants are trying something new with strange leadoff hitter

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

With a lineup that’s struggling and a Brandon Belt who’s struggling, the Giants are trying to cure two things at once.

Bruce Bochy bumped the first baseman to leadoff Tuesday, the first time the slugger has been atop the order since Aug. 19, 2018. Against righty Chi Chi Gonzalez, the Giants answered with lefties at Nos. 1, 2 and 4 (Belt, Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson).

“Hopefully he gets on base, good on-base guy, but also he’s a power threat,” Bochy said before the Giants faced the Rockies at Oracle Park.

The 31-year-old Belt entered mired in a week-plus-long slump, 2-for-28 (.071) in his past nine games, with a double being his only extra-base hit in the span. His batting eye has not suffered, though, and the Giants’ OBP leader had six walks in the stretch.

“Helps get the offense going. Think it’s fair to say I think we’ve had our struggles,” Bochy said of an offense that has a major league-worst .223 average. “But if you change things, see if you can get out of that rut. Especially here at home.

“[There have been] a lot of games where we’ve scored two runs or less. We’d like to change that the rest of the way. Let’s take a look at Belt in that spot.”

Will Smith, still perfect in save chances, looks like a shoo-in to represent the Giants at the All-Star Game, a nod that would honor him.

Bochy did a little more endorsing of his reliever.

“It’d be great to see Smitty there. What a year he’s had,” Bochy said of the 20-for-20 closer, who missed the entire 2017 season following Tommy John surgery and has reinvented himself.

“Nothing would make me happier.”

The Giants partook in pitcher fielding practice before the game, a covering-first drill usually reserved for spring training.

“Need to refresh their memory occasionally, especially when they haven’t done a play in two, three months,” Bochy said.


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