Linden on the spot

For years now, I have received myriad e-mails from Giants fans regarding outfielder Todd Linden. Save for the ones from women who’d like to know if he’s single, the general theme of these inquiries has to do with the Giants reluctance to give their longtime prospect a legitimate chance.

Well, that time may finally be at hand.

Starting center fielder Dave Roberts likely will land on the disabled list today, because of suspected bone spurs in his left elbow. That means Linden, at worst, should move into an almost-everyday role filling in for him. Roberts’ physical history suggests he won’t be back soon, so this might be the last, best chance for Linden to prove he belongs.

It’s been a tough road for Linden. He always has put up silly numbers in the minor leagues, but more often than not, he has appeared overmatched in the majors. Scouts have told me that his swing is just too darned long, and though Linden has worked hard to make adjustments, it appears he still can’t catch up to consistent major-league heat.

That said, he occasionally shows signs, as he did late last season, when he hit consistently and played stellar defense. The pro-Linden crowd has said the only thing he has lacked is a legitimate chance, and indeed, perhaps all Linden needs is the chance to face big-league pitching consistently rather than intermittently.

The point is, we may be about to find out. Linden may never have a better chance. For the Giants sake, he needs to seize it.