SAN FRANCISCO -- Pedro Feliz finally gets his chance to play third base -- and only third -- for the first time in five years as a Giant, and it should, at least in theory, be beneficial to both parties.

The 30-year-old Feliz has long had the "versatile" tag, meaning he could play multiple positions but also had to sport multiple personalities, moving to first, then the outfield, maybe starting at third but never sticking there.

Every spot has its own quirks and issues and, to his credit, Feliz survived, playing backup to Edgardo Alfonzo for three seasons before the latter was traded to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim over the winter.

That left the door open for Feliz to have a stable home, continue to hone his third-base skills, and he's excited about Opening Day on Monday in San Diego when the Giants face the defending National League West champions at PETCO Park.

"I'm not going to make any excuses -- I've been working for this a long time," said Feliz of being the starter. "I've been working all the time to keep my body and mind in a good position. I can't be lazy about it. Now I want to get it going.

Bench coach Ron Wotus expects Feliz to blossom. He's worked with Feliz ever since the player arrived in San Francisco and he'll continue to do so.

"Everybody's looking forward to seeing him play third on a consistent basis," said Wotus. "He's done a little bit of everything the last four years, but it's been a natural progression for him at third. It should help him and he'll continue to improve.

"He can be an outstanding third baseman and be one of the tops in the league."

Heading into the final exhibition game of the year, a 5-3 loss to Oakland at AT&T Park on Sunday, Feliz's stats hardly showed a lack of at-bats after only six plate appearances in the World Baseball Classic.

He was batting .375 with three homers and four RBIs in a nine-game binge, posting a .725 slugging percentage and showing excellence defense.

Bullpen backups: With closer Armando Benitez on the shelf for two weeks due to left knee bursitis, there's a big hole in the relief corps, but manager Felipe Alou is confident the team will hold up.

"Losing the closer is something, but we have a better bullpen now than when we [lost] Benitez last year," said Alou. "Tim Worrell is back, Tyler Walker saved a number of games and we just have to do it until Armando comes back."

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Wright's outing: Fifth starter Jamey Wright ended his spring with a 1-1 record and 3.32 ERA after giving up five runs and seven hits to the A's on Sunday.

"I felt pretty strong in my first [outing of the spring] and I've continued to get stronger -- that's a good sign," said Wright, a non-roster invitee who made the club. "It's good. I feel healthy and excited to get it going.

As for San Francisco's first three series this season -- the Padres in San Diego, then Atlanta and Houston at home -- Wright feels it'll be quite a fight.

"It'll a good challenge right off the bat, and that's what we want," he said. "Everybody in the clubhouse is fired up for this season and there's a lot of expectations. I'm sure it's the same in the Astros' clubhouse and Braves and Padres' clubhouses."

Coming up: Right-hander Jason Schmidt takes on the Padres at 4:05 p.m. Monday at PETCO Park to open the 2006 season. He'll oppose right-hander Jake Peavy.