SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Crawford took his turn, showing off his usual defensive skills while taking a set of grounders at shortstop on a back field at Scottsdale Stadium. Then came Maurico Dubon, and then Kean Wong and Austin Slater.
Wait, Austin Slater?
This is Camp Versatility, but even by that standard, it was a bit surprising to see Slater getting work in as a shortstop Friday morning. He then moved on to work at second base, and manager Gabe Kapler said Slater wasn't just having fun. He'll get reps at all four infield spots this spring, along with his usual work in the outfield.
Slater, getting ready for his fourth big league season, is into it. But what exactly is his position right now?
"I'm a Right Handed Batter's Box," he said, laughing.
The Giants, as you might have heard a time or two, are going all-in on platoons, and Slater could be a big part of that. He had a .838 OPS against left-handed pitchers last season and could be a nice counter to Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski in the outfield and Brandon Belt at first base.
But platoon life isn't just about the other day's starting pitcher. The Giants know they have a talent deficit. They hope to gain an edge by literally exploiting every platoon advantage they can over nine innings.
There could be times when Slater pinch-hits for Belt, or for Crawford, with a more natural shortstop like Mauricio Dubon sliding over to short and Slater getting a few innings at second base.
"The mentality is let us over-prepare right now and see how the roster stacks up," Slater said. "I enjoy doing it."
Slater has 23 big league starts at first base but just a handful of innings at second and third. But he has nearly 900 minor league innings at second base and last year the Giants had him try third 11 times in Triple-A. He has always done extra infield work during batting practice, so this is just a natural extension for the 27-year-old. It could also be his best way onto the roster.
It'll be an interesting spring for Slater defensively, but the real work will be done in the cages. He has more raw power than most on the roster but just nine homers in 544 plate appearances.
Slater made swing changes last offseason to try to increase his launch angle and is continuing to work on that this spring. He lit up when talking about the three new hitting coaches, saying they already have a good understanding of what he's trying to do.
The Giants can do all they want with defensive positioning to get Slater on the field more often, but they do need to see that pay off with more power production for the lineup.
"I think we want to create the best possible path for Austin, so when he drives the ball he drives it in the air," Kapler said. "He definitely has raw power, dating back to his time at Stanford. We know about the pedigree and we just want to see that come out frequently in games."