MLB

SS Brandon Crawford among position players in camp

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)

Brandon Crawford walked into the clubhouse followed by a team camera crew. They began with him back home in the Bay Area and tracked his journey to spring training.

Casually dressed with a stylish hat covering his shaggy hairdo, San Francisco's shortstop of the future is going to have a tough time going incognito anymore.

The 25-year-old Crawford knows the starting job is his to lose in 2012. That's a big reason why he is among a handful of Giants position players already working out at Scottsdale Stadium a week before the first full-squad session.

''The expectations, I'm not too worried about that,'' Crawford said Saturday morning. ''It's more attention, more media attention coming into this season. It doesn't bother me. I think it's something I've always done - just go pitch by pitch and not worry about everything else that's going on.''

Pitchers and catchers reported Saturday ahead of Sunday's initial practice, which will mark 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey's first formal session with the team since a season-ending leg injury in a collision at the plate with Florida's Scott Cousins on May 25.

''I'm confident Buster's going to be fine,'' manager Bruce Bochy said.

The slick-fielding Crawford, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008, is gearing up for his first full major league season. He batted .204 with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 66 games last year for the Giants, who hope to see him improve at the plate this season in a full-time role.

His plan for the spring is simple: find some consistency in all phases. He has been hitting and taking groundballs every day to ''sharpen up a little bit.''

Crawford arrived in the Arizona desert last Monday, coming full circle in what's been one whirlwind offseason. He played in the Arizona Fall League, then left a few days later for the Big Island of Hawaii ahead of his Nov. 26 wedding to new wife, Jalynne. They honeymooned, then after the holidays Crawford attended the rookie development camp in Virginia in early January, then a conditioning camp in Arizona followed by FanFest in San Francisco earlier this month.

''It was pretty crazy,'' he said.

Now, he is ready to get to going without any distractions.

''Hopefully it shows I want to get here and work, but that's not the reason I came down. I came down to get ready, to get better,'' Crawford said. ''It's a big year.''

Crawford made strides in the Fall League, hitting .276. He was at .307 before his average fell with a 1-for-12 slump over the final four games.

''Being young and not having a lot of time in the major leagues, he wants to get himself ready, both physically and mentally to get himself set for the season,'' Bochy said. ''It's great that he's taken the initiative to come out here early and make sure he's ready.''

Crawford, Brandon Belt - a candidate for left field and first base - and right fielder Nate Schierholtz all were in the batting cage early Saturday taking their cuts.

Crawford wants to do all that he can to earn the spot. That's all he can control.

''That's a great attitude,'' Bochy said. ''Opportunity knocks, you want to be ready. You don't want to look back and say you didn't do everything you could to take advantage of it. He's got the right way about him. He's not going to read too much into it or get full of himself with all the attention he's going to get. He's going to handle it fine. ''

Belt arrived Thursday after making the 18-hour drive from Texas to Arizona, eager to get going and prove that he also deserves a starting job. He admits he's not a morning person, so he plans to use this week to make the adjustment to early wakeups.

Bochy said Belt will compete with Aubrey Huff to play at first base or in left field. Brett Pill also is in the mix.

There will be slightly less attention on the Giants this spring than a year ago as the defending World Series champions.

''It will be a little bit quieter,'' ace Matt Cain said. ''I think everybody enjoyed the Showtime deal last year. It was fun. I think that we'll get to see what they can do this year with the Marlins team.''

Cain, who wants to keep his options open about the future, said his representatives and the Giants are in talks about an extension and he hopes something comes together by the end of spring training. He wouldn't say how many years he is seeking or for how much money.

''Cain, you still getting traded?'' reliever Jeremy Affeldt razzed Saturday.

''Yeah, for a box of balls,'' Cain quipped.

Bochy doesn't expect closer Brian Wilson or second baseman Freddy Sanchez to be ready until the second week of Cactus League action.

Sanchez is returning from labrum surgery on his right shoulder, while Wilson missed time late last season with an elbow injury. Bochy watched him throw a bullpen session Thursday in which he made 20 pitches, sat down to rest and then tossed 20 more. He mixed in breaking pitches.

''He's on pace where we want him,'' the skipper said.

Tagged: Marlins, Matt Cain, Giants

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