SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Center fielder Aaron Rowand admits he is biased, but he believes third baseman Joe Crede would be a tremendous fit with the Giants. And he knows the front office is thinking hard about acquiring his former Chicago White Sox teammate.
That's because Giants officials asked Rowand to provide a character reference.
"They inquired and asked about what kind of guy he is," Rowand said. "They obviously know what he can do as a baseball player."
Crede, 29, is coming off an injury-shortened, 47-game season and had surgery to alleviate a herniated disk in June. He reported to White Sox camp proclaiming to be healthy, and the Giants will monitor him closely this spring.
Expendable because of rookie Josh Fields, Crede hit 30 home runs and drove in 93 in 2006. He was a clutch machine for the White Sox in their 2005 march to a World Series championship.
Rowand said Crede would be a legitimate cleanup presence for the Giants, who currently have catcher Bengie Molina miscast in the fourth spot.
"He's one of the most clutch hitters I've ever played with," Rowand said. "I can't tell you how many ballgames he won for us in '05. He makes adjustments, he hits home runs, he hits in the clutch and he plays Gold Glove third base."
Rowand also said Crede would fit with manager Bruce Bochy's "Warrior Spirit" brigade "because of the way he plays the game and his personality. He plays hard and he's also light hearted.
Crede will make $5.1 million this season, which the Giants could absorb while still remaining below last year's payroll. Including deferred money, they currently project to spend just under $87 million; they spent roughly $95 million last season.
"It all depends on what the White Sox want," Rowand said.
The Giants might be able to get Crede without parting with a pitcher like Jonathan Sanchez. Outfielder Fred Lewis is out of options and generated interest with several teams this winter.
While Crede is a free agent after this season, the Giants consider him a potential long-term piece because they have no third base prospects anywhere in the system. Crede might not be as athletic as the Giants would prefer -- he has four stolen bases in 701 career games -- but Rowand said his agility at third base ranks with Gold Glove fielders Scott Rolen and Eric Chavez.
"He's got side-to-side quickness," Rowand said, smiling. "I always tell him a guy so quick shouldn't be so slow."
Barry Zito drew laughs when he shook off Molina during the first full-squad workout Tuesday. Zito looked fluid and fine as he threw live batting practice to Guillermo Rodriguez, Randy Winn and Rowand. ... Batting practice was a little too lively for Lewis. He barely dodged getting drilled in the head by a wild fastball from Erick Threets.
-- Andrew Baggarly, MediaNews staff