Notes: Giants adjusting to tricky surface
Infielders note AT&T's hard dirt makes for difficult grounders
SAN FRANCISCO -- Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. Lately, the San Francisco Giants' infielders have been adjusting to their playing surface at AT&T Park.Nobody's complaining.
"It's a nice, beautiful field. They've always taken care of this field well," said Ryan Klesko, who has started 22 games at first base.
Klesko noted, however, that the combination of the grass, which has thickened since Opening Day, and the dirt, which has hardened since then, has made ground balls trickier.Utility infielder Rich Aurilia, who received a tough error on Monday night on a hot-shot hit past him at third base by Houston's Hunter Pence, defined the difficulty. "The ball hits the grass and kind of slows down, then when it hits the dirt, it speeds up," Aurilia said. "It's a matter of getting used to something. The difficult part for me is I have to get used to it in four different spots." Aurilia, a Giants player during the first four seasons at the bayside ballpark (2000-03), pointed out that logistics and weather combine to play havoc with the field's consistency. The infield is installed at a relatively short interval before Opening Day, due to the offseason events staged at the ballpark. Additionally, the wind can harden the infield dirt, and the sun bakes it during day games. "You can't anticipate bad hops, but you try to read the good hops better," Aurilia said. Klesko noted that the thick grass can benefit or hinder a team. Referring to Tuesday night's game against Houston, he said, "I saw five or six balls hit up the middle that in a lot of other parks would be base hits. [The grass] allows you to make some plays because it's not cut so short. But as a hitter, you would like sometimes to get some balls to go through." Hot hand: Going 5-for-7 with a home run and three doubles in the first two games against Houston kept Klesko in the lineup for the series finale. He started in left field for the first time this season while Aurilia played first. "It's hard to take him out of the lineup the way he's swinging the bat now," manager Bruce Bochy said. "You have to find a spot for him, and I think players understand that." Klesko, who missed almost the entire 2006 season after undergoing left shoulder surgery, has never doubted his ability to hit. He said that was the first skill he regained following his rehabilitation. Immediately before his two-game binge against Houston, Klesko endured a 4-for-25 (.160) skid, but he noted, "Even when I went through that spell, I was lining out once or twice a game." Bochy on Bonds: As Bochy had earlier announced, he rested Barry Bonds on Wednesday, essentially giving the left fielder a two-day break combined with Thursday's scheduled off-day. Bochy believes that Bonds, who's homerless in his last 12 games and is batting .152 (5-for-33) with one double and 18 walks in that span, will snap out of his funk quickly. "It goes to show you that he's human, too, and he's going to go through his ups and downs during the course of the season," Bochy said. "Right now, he's not locked in, that's obvious, but he certainly needs a day. I expect when he comes back, we'll see him start to swing the bat the way we know he can." Although Bonds turns 43 on July 24, Bochy doubted that age has begun to erode the cleanup hitter's skills at the plate. "You watch him in batting practice, and it's still remarkable what he can do," Bochy said. "It's just a matter of time before he comes out of it." Winn's mark: Randy Winn's hitting streak ended at 20 games on Tuesday, but it was the longest by a Giants switch-hitter since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Winn eclipsed Willie McGee's 19-game streak in 1991. Coming up: The Giants enjoy a scheduled off-day on Thursday before opening a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at AT&T Park on Friday. Right-hander Matt Cain (2-4, 3.30 ERA) will start Friday's opener against right-hander Jason Hirsh (2-4, 4.28).
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.