SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In his second inning at second base, where he hadn’t played in 15 years, Jimmy Rollins got a needed test.
Speedy White Sox outfielder Peter Bourjos came up with a runner on first and hit a grounder to second. Rollins fielded it cleanly and made a perfect feed to the bag, giving Brandon Crawford enough time to fire a strike back to first for the double play. Rollins smiled and pointed to Crawford. He then tipped his cap toward the seats alongside the Giants dugout, where Ron Wotus, who has been working with Rollins every morning, was sitting.
“I’m happy it was Bourjos,” Rollins said. “We had to move quickly.”
Rollins looked just fine in his spring debut at second base. He had previously played 13 innings at shortstop, and he’s going to get time at third, too. That’s the life of a utility infielder, and it’s a job Rollins is hoping to win.
"I thought he looked pretty good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "In the early going, he's looking pretty good. That was a nice pivot to Craw for that double play."
The switch to the second-base side — where Rollins jokes that it looks like the catcher is throwing with the wrong hand — will be the biggest adjustment. Rollins has said that turning his back to a runner will be the weirdest part, and he didn’t have that situation Thursday. He did get three grounders, handling all easily.
“When the game starts, you just use your athleticism and let the instincts take over,” he said.
Rollins was 0-for-3 at the plate and he’s 2-for-10 this spring, with two walks. Through a week of games, none of the backup infielder candidates have really separated from the pack.
"I knew this coming in," Bochy said. "I expected it to continue to be a fierce competition. It's not going to be easy to make the final decision. In the early going, Jimmy looks sharp. He's swinging the bat well and playing well defensively."