Giants put on power display vs. Royals
Durham belts two homers; Bonds rips laser shot out of park
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Crowd-pleasing, yes. Effective, maybe. Likely to be repeated often ... probably not.All are safe assumptions regarding the Giants' outburst of power in Thursday's 7-6 split-squad exhibition loss to the Kansas City Royals. Home runs accounted for San Francisco's scoring as Ray Durham belted two and Barry Bonds, Rich Aurilia, Todd Linden and Lance Niekro added one apiece. In the evening split-squad game against Seattle, Pedro Feliz continued the surge by delivering a two-run, first-inning homer off Jeff Weaver. Giants purists who fall asleep humming "Bye Bye Baby" to themselves could revel in a hitting display that was as illusory as it was impressive. San Francisco ranked 11th in the National League with 163 home runs last season, a total that doesn't figure to increase much without the addition of an established power hitter. By himself, Bonds makes any lineup a power-laden one. But he turns 43 on July 24 and will be sandwiched by hitters who probably will offer sporadic protection, at best. Durham, coming off a personal-best 26-homer season, is by his own admission a line-drive hitter whose best efforts occasionally fly out of the park. Feliz has averaged 21 homers over the last three seasons. Aurilia hit 23 homers last season but averaged only 12 over the previous four. The season highs for right fielder Randy Winn and catcher Bengie Molina are 20 and 19, respectively. Ryan Klesko has power potential, but he's not assured of regular playing time. When Dave Roberts and Omar Vizquel hit homers, it's a happy accident. So, can the Giants rely on the long ball? "Yeah and no," Durham said. "Ultimately, we have to take what the pitcher gives us. I think we have the potential to do both -- bang with some teams, but ... play small ball, too. I think we have the lineup to do it." Although Earl Weaver's Baltimore Orioles teams were a notable exception, few ballclubs can thrive on power alone. For example, last season's top home run hitting teams in each league, the Chicago White Sox (236) and Atlanta Braves (222), both missed the postseason. As left-hander Barry Zito related, "With the A's all those years, we relied on the home run. It worked at times; it came back to bite us at times." At least the Giants proved that they could capitalize on prime power-hitting conditions. Game-time temperature at Surprise Stadium was 86 degrees, although most of the Giants' homers would have cleared the barrier even in cooler temperatures. Durham opened the second inning by lining his first homer barely over the left-field fence. His next drive carried farther, landing in the Royals' bullpen. Both came off left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, with the switch-hitting Durham batting right-handed -- his natural side. Linden, another switch-hitter, batted left-handed in the fifth inning against David Riske and golfed his homer far over the right-field fence. Later, Aurilia in the sixth and Niekro in the eighth added high drives.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.