The top of the lineup for Monday's Triple-A game against the Rockies looked unremarkable. Gary Brown led off and played center field, followed by Brock Bond at second base, Juan Perez in left and Roger Kieschnick in right.
The name in the fifth slot, though, prompted a double take: Todd Linden, first base.
That Todd Linden?
At 32, the Giants' 2001 compensatory-round draft pick still hopes to return to the majors for the first time since 2007, the year they gave up on the switch-hitting outfielder after realizing he would not become the everyday, middle-order threat that they and the fans had expected.
The odds are long that Linden can hop to the top of the depth chart and get a call-up if the Giants need an outfielder or first baseman, but as assistant general manager Bobby Evans said, "He wouldn't be here if there was no shot."
On Monday, "here" was the Giants' minor-league complex, where Linden and his mates played in front of an unpaid crowd of 50 on a 75-degree afternoon that felt 10 degrees hotter.
Batting right-handed his first time up, against major-league reliever Rex Brothers, Linden sent a screaming liner to right field for an out. Batting left-handed three innings later, against minor-league journeyman Tim Gustafson, he grounded out to first.
Linden has played plenty of games like this over a career that included parts of five seasons in Fresno and the majors, followed by minor-league stints with the A's and Yankees, two years in Japan and one year of independent ball in Canada before the Giants welcomed him back to Fresno in May.

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