Kelby Tomlinson has done well filling in for injured second baseman Joe Panik this season, but he knows his tenure at second base is limited, and is preparing to take a preemptive step to maximize his potential to remain with the San Francisco Giants’ major-league club next season.
With the news that Panik has been shut down for the remainder of the season due to lingering lower back inflammation, Tomlinson will likely start at the position for the rest of 2015.
While he has done well, hitting .287/.351/.385 with one home run and 15 RBI and holding his own in the field with one error in 156 total chances, Tomlinson understands his stint as a starter at second base for the Giants will come to an end once a rejuvenated Panik returns in 2016.
In an effort to try to keep a starting spot on the Giants, or at the minimum increase his value to the club, Tomlinson revealed that he will train as an outfielder in the offseason.
"I think it’s just to kind of get me a little bit of work out there so if the need comes up, I wouldn’t be a complete stranger to it," Tomlinson said.
The Giants bench is impressed with the 25-year-old infielder’s plans.
"It’s something that obviously would increase his value and give him a better opportunity to help the major-league club," bench coach Ron Wotus said.
"You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone or try a new position if you want to play," he added. "If you’re a young player and you have an All-Star second baseman ahead of you and that’s your position, it only makes good sense for you to want to expand your opportunities to get in the lineup."
Fellow Giants rookie, third baseman Matt Duffy, who knows Tomlinson well from their days in the minors together, thinks Tomlinson is up for the task of transforming into an outfielder.
"He’s athletic enough to play at a very high level of defense no matter where he’s at," Duffy said. "You could almost argue that his athleticism is underutilized in the infield."
Wotus mentioned that the Giants brass and coaching staff have yet to discuss the prospect of Tomlinson playing outfield next season, but it certainly can’t hurt his odds of finding a long-term role with the team.
"The attitude does go a long way," Wotus said of Tomlinson’s flexibility. "But I think he’s smart enough to realize that this is only going to benefit him in his career."