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Frandsen embracing utility infielder role

Frandsen embracing utility infielder role

Frandsen embracing utility infielder role
PEORIA, Ariz. -- As a lifelong Giants fan who grew up in San Jose and later spent parts of seven professional seasons in the Giants organization, Kevin Frandsen had more than just a passing interest in the World Series last fall.

"Some of my best friends are still over there," said Frandsen, who counts Tim Lincecum, Nate Schierholtz and Brian Wilson among his best friends on the team. "... I couldn't be prouder of what they accomplished.

"With that group, it was never just about being in the big leagues. It was about winning."

There was a part of Frandsen that wishes he was a part of the celebration in Texas after the Giants finished off the Rangers in Game 5 of the Series, giving the Giants their first World Series championship in 53 years.

"Unfortunately, I wasn't a part of it so it was a little tough to watch because you wanted to be there so bad," Frandsen said. "But I got to live it through them [former teammates] a little bit. I was happy for them."

Frandsen, here in camp as a non-roster invitee who will try to make the team as a utility infielder, has come to terms with his parting from the Giants. He was traded to the Red Sox in March then finished the season with the Angels.

But moving on from the organization that drafted him in 2004 wasn't easy.

"It was a tough situation for me. I was supposed to be the second baseman there in 2008 but I suffered the Achilles injury [ruptured left tendon]," Frandsen said. "It was a little bittersweet.

"But as a competitor, you've got to turn the page."

Frandsen, 28, is trying to do just that with the Padres. He's in camp on a Minor League contract with no guarantee, but the Padres would prefer he wins a job on the bench this spring as someone who can bounce around the infield at different positions.

That's a role Frandsen is seeing in an entirely different light than when he rose through the Giants system, essentially pegged to be their second baseman of the future.

"I had that stubbornness. I had that competitive fire. I wanted to be that everyday guy," said Frandsen, who moved quickly through the Giants system, reaching Triple-A in his first full season and the Major Leagues in 2006.

Frandsen started to see his future differently shortly after suffering the Achilles injury in 2008. He missed the entire season all but for one at-bat, giving him time to ponder his future in the organization.

"During that injury time, I figured it out. I saw that I could make a living for myself by playing all the positions, being a good teammate, coming in to play defense, the double-switches ... all of the little things," Frandsen said.

"It's a pride thing. I think the reason you see a lot of utility guys stay around as long as they do is because they play the game right."

Frandsen leaned a lot on Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery last spring and teammate Mark DeRosa for guidance about being a utility man last spring before being dealt to the Red Sox.

"DeRosa told me only to worry about what you can control and just to make everything simple," Frandsen said. "I know this is something I can do really well."

The Padres would like it if Frandsen can replace the versatility that Jerry Hairston offered a year ago. Frandsen played third base and first base last season after being acquired off waivers by the Angels in April.

Frandsen will also be asked to play shortstop, a position that he has played 32 games at in the Major Leagues.

"He's a guy we're going to look at hard to fill a utility infield role," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's got experience, he's versatile. He can do a lot of things."

That was evident during a recent fielding drill on a back field where pitchers covered first base on ground balls to the right side. One ball snuck through and appeared headed into right field before Frandsen, playing second base, dove for the ball, smothered it with his glove and recovered to throw to first base.

His new teammates cheered.

"That's just my style. That's how I've always played," Frandsen said. "I probably can't ever get away from it. If I did, I would probably lose my edge on what I do best."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }