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How Austin Slater is staying sharp as Giants consider infield option

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND — When you have a .411 on-base percentage, consistently see quality at-bats and have emerged as a serious offensive threat against any pitcher, rather than just lefties, you want to be more than just a pinch-hitter and spot-starter against southpaws.

So on Saturday, when he had extra time because he wasn’t in the lineup that night, Austin Slater got in some practice at second, which he hadn’t done in a while.

“It’s tough when you’re playing every day to go out early, middle of the season and do work, but on the days off like today, gonna go out there and get some ground balls,” Slater told KNBR before the Giants beat the A’s, 10-5.

Slater had diversified himself in the minors, getting action virtually everywhere — all three outfield spots and first, second and third. At the major league level, he’s mostly been a right fielder, where Bruce Bochy said he will continue to see most of his time.

But before Sunday’s game, Bochy said he can envision Slater getting more time at first, where he played 38 games with Triple-A Sacramento.

“Could give [Brandon] Belt a break,” said Bochy, who only referenced first base.

Farhan Zaidi last week called Slater a “revelation” and mentioned the possibility of him playing second base, too, in the future. Zaidi loves options like most love breathing.

“There haven’t been any direct messages relayed to me, but it’s part of my game, something I have to keep sharp,” Slater said. “Triple-A I was playing a lot of first, second and third. Just something I need to keep up with.”

In his past eight games (three starts), the 26-year-old with a revamped swing is 8-for-16 with a homer and six RBIs. Those are numbers that you find a spot for.


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