SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Steven Duggar entered camp with a chance to earn the Giants starting center field job.
He’s playing as if he’s trying to earn a statue.
The do-everything rookie hit his third homer of spring Sunday and added a sensational diving catch to snuff a bases-loaded rally. Duggar also showed off a strong throwing arm in a 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He didn’t play in Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
“It seems like he’s just a ballplayer who would do this in free time if he could,” Giants starter Jeff Samardzija said.
Through seven games, Duggar batting .412 with a .474 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage. His three homers, plus a double, have come in 17 at-bats.
Spring training numbers are as meaningful as Monopoly money, and there are no guarantees Duggar will even make the team. But Samardzija pointed to the rookie’s effort, not the numbers.
“He’s out there trying to win a job, and it’s cool to see that he understands the importance of every spring training game,” Sarmardzija said. “That awareness is always important in a young kid. Some kids don’t have that sense of urgency; he seems to have it.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy sounded especially impressed by Duggar’s no-doubt blast to right field off Kenta Maeda.
“He got a hold of that one. That wasn’t an Arizona home run. That ball is out anywhere,” Bochy said. “He’s doing all he can to make it tough on us.”
Duggar, 24, lacks only experience. He has 232 minor league games to his credit but nothing in the big leagues. Bochy tried to temper expectations by saying simply that Duggar’s chances of making opening day are “realistic. … We’re going to stay open-minded as we decide who the 25 guys are.”
Duggar credited his veteran teammates, including newcomers Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson, for giving him advice all spring. A year ago, he had a brief chat with Willie Mays about playing center field.
“Willie always gives good insight for sure,” Duggar said.
Duggar’s running catch in the second inning rescued Samardzija from a bases-loaded jam after he’d walked three in a row. Chase Utley smacked a sinking drive to the left-center field gap. Duggar showed impressive closing speed and snared the ball.
“He made it look easy, right?” Samardzija said. “He’s been fun to watch.”