Results tagged ‘ Freddy Sanchez ’

Hey, TBS, who won the World Series last year?

Wednesday, March 9

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The San Francisco Giants are the defending World Series champions.

That undeniable fact begs repeating upon examining the first two months of the “Sunday MLB on TBS” schedule.

TBS opted to televise the Giants — whose roster includes telegenic performers such as Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Buster Posey, Andres Torres, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff — exactly zero times through May 29.

We’ll give TBS a little bit of a break. ESPN grabbed the Giants for the regular season’s first Sunday, when they visit the Dodgers. Yours truly neglected to check with TBS’ media relations representatives to determine whether there’s a good reason for the Giants to be overlooked.

But at first glance, this looks like a classic case of East Coast bias.

TBS will show the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees three times apiece, the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays twice each, and the Dodgers, Cubs, Mets and Tigers once.

Didn’t the Giants defeat the Braves, Phillies and Rangers in last year’s postseason? Just checking.

*****

The Giants played some excellent defense in Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Barry Zito and Freddy Sanchez collaborated on the game’s first out. Zito pounced on Juan Pierre’s bunt and made a quick, risky yet accurate throw to Sanchez, who was covering first.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval demonstrated the benefits of his weight loss by pouncing on Alexei Ramirez’s fifth-inning bunt and whipping an off-balance throw to first for the out.

Buster Posey threw out Lastings Milledge, who tried to steal third base in the sixth inning.

*****

The Giants are 10-4 in Cactus League play, largely due to their pitching. Kind of like the regular season.

They trimmed their ERA to an even 3.00 on Wednesday. The starters’ ERA in the last  eight games is 1.27.

– Chris Haft

Excruciating enough for you?

Monday, Aug. 30

SAN FRANCISCO — My main man Michael, a faithful and long-suffering (that’s redundant) Giants fan who resides in New York, informed me via e-mail that he couldn’t immediately fall asleep after Monday night’s 2-1 loss to Colorado.

Neither could I, though I’m more tired than disappointed. I’m awake because I feel compelled to share a few more game- and Giants-related items:

– It’s tough and probably unfair to second-guess manager Bruce Bochy for his timing in summoning Brian Wilson to replace Jonathan Sanchez in the ninth inning. Sanchez didn’t look good in walking Dexter Fowler to open the ninth after jumping ahead on the count, 0-2. Immediately bringing in Wilson, a two-time All-Star with 36 saves in 39 chances, was a totally defensible move — even though he threw 33 pitches over 1 2/3 innings on Sunday.

Except Carlos Gonzalez, the next batter who hit the fateful triple off Wilson, welcomed the departure of Sanchez, who struck him out twice and induced a comebacker.

“I was happy,” Gonzalez said. “[Sanchez] basically dominated the whole night.”

– Sanchez added only two walks to his National League-high total of 75 he took into the game. Too bad the second free pass he issued was the one to Fowler.

– With their fourth loss in five games, the Giants clinched a losing record in August. They’re 12-15 this month, on the heels of their glorious 20-8 July.

– The Rockies have won four of their last five games at AT&T Park.

– The Giants’ defense has been charged with 11 errors in the last five games after committing 11 errors in the previous 27 games.

No wonder Michael can’t sleep.

– Chris Haft

Defeat could pay dividends

Wednesday, Aug. 25

SAN FRANCISCO — The concept of a team winning a game that it can “build upon” is overrated. Any kind of triumph for a club needing one is significant only if it can win its next game.

But Wednesday’s crazy affair at AT&T Park was different. The Giants’ 12-11 loss to Cincinnati should have a definite residual effect: Impregnable, unshakable faith in themselves for the rest of the season.

They overcame a 10-1 deficit to take a brief 11-10 lead in the ninth inning. Never in their long, storied history had the Giants completed a comeback from a nine-run deficit, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Brian Wilson applied the “build on” phrase to the Giants’ surge.

“To be able to battle back like that, you can’t really hang your head,” he said. “You can only build on it, knowing that we can definitely score a lot of runs when we’re down.”

“Come playoff time, this whole game right here is a great experience for everybody,” first baseman Aubrey Huff said.

The Giants have been criticized for acquiring outfielders they might not necessarily need, namely Jose Guillen and Cody Ross. However, their influence has been obvious. They provide depth for the batting order (directly) and the bench (indirectly).

Suddenly, opposing pitchers have much more to think about when they confront the Giants.

“We’ve got some guys getting hot now,” Huff said.

Examples:

– Pablo Sandoval has rapped three hits or more in three consecutive games for the first time in his career. Suddenly, the Panda is batting a respectable .276 after languishing around .260 for much of the season.

– Juan Uribe has homered in back-to-back games.

– Freddy Sanchez went 9-for-11 in this series.

– Huff is batting .435 (10-for-23) during a six-game hitting streak.

That said, Thursday’s off-day appears to be well-timed for the Giants. Wednesday’s series finale against the Reds forced every reliever to pitch and surely drained the team as a whole. They can use a day to recharge, forget about baseball and return fresh on Friday for the weekend series against the Diamondbacks.

*****

Here’s a look at a day when the Giants almost wiped out a nine-run deficit. You knew I’d delve into history at some point, didn’t you?

Actually, they trailed by more than nine. Facing Pittsburgh at Seals Stadium on May 5, 1958, their first year in San Francisco, the Giants were on the short end of an 11-1 score entering the ninth inning. They proceeded to amass nine runs but left the bases loaded in an 11-10 loss.

*****

The Giants endured a scary moment in the third inning when Huff appeared to injure his left wrist. As it turned out, the pain was fleeting.

Cincinnati’s Paul Janish essentially bumped into Huff’s wrist as the San Francisco first baseman reached for pitcher Ramon Ramirez’s throw on a third-inning play. The semi-collision knocked Huff’s glove off his hand, which was fortunate. Had the mitt remained attached, Huff might have been hurt. “The best thing was that the glove went flying,” he said.

– Chris Haft

 

Plenty of leftovers from Thursday (Giants 5, Phils 2)

Thursday, Aug. 19

PHILADELPHIA — Thursday night brought mixed blessings for Pablo Sandoval.

The struggling switch-hitter finally hit his first home run of the season as a right-handed batter in his 122nd at-bat from that side of the plate. It opened the fourth inning and concluded the Giants’ scoring in their 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

But Sandoval also popped up into a double play in the ninth inning. That’s right, “popped up.” Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco dropped Sandoval’s one-out sky ball. But Sandoval loafed up the baseline, enabling Polanco to throw him out. Nate Schierholtz, pinch-running for Jose Guillen at first, strayed a little too far from the bag and was tagged out to complete the double play.

Manager Bruce Bochy fined Sandoval an undisclosed amount for not reaching first base safely. Sandoval — who was charged with grounding into his 22nd double play of the season — acknowledged the error of his ways.

“That’s my fault,” Sandoval said. “You learn. I made a big mistake. I apologized to [Bochy]. I learned I have to run hard to first base every moment.”

Sandoval homer, his ninth overall, was a more pleasant subject for him. He acknowledged that his timing, particularly as a right-handed batter, was all fouled up. “I’ve been jumping out and my hands don’t ‘load’ at the right time,” he said, admitting that he has been off-balance at the plate.

*****

Another Giants hitter who might have regained some equilibrium was Freddy Sanchez. The second baseman, who has shared playing time recently with Mike Fontenot, might have hit his way back into a regular role by singling solidly and scoring in his first two at-bats.

“Whatever my role is, the number one goal is winning. That’s all I want to do,” Sanchez said. “If that [means] playing against lefties right now, that’s just playing against lefties now. But when my name gets called, I’ll be ready.”

Sanchez pulled both of his hits to left field, contrasting with his usual opposite-field style. He indicated that he might have been concentrating too much on going to right field, particularly with runners (usually leadoff man Andres Torres) on base.

“I was talking to Boch about that,” Sanchez said. “Maybe not try so hard to get the guy over or hit a hole.”

Bochy approved of Sanchez’s handiwork.

“I thought he had some good at-bats tonight,” Bochy said. “I thought he had better balance and pulled some balls with authority. That’s the Freddy we know. It’d be nice to have him back to who he is.”

*****

Jonathan Sanchez’s success at going deep into the game proved to be essential. Bochy said that right-hander Santiago Casilla left Philadelphia before the game to be with his wife, who was in labor. This left San Francisco’s bullpen a man short. An abbreviated outing by Sanchez or an extra-inning affair might have made life tough for the Giants. Bochy sounded uncertain about Casilla’s availability for Friday night’s series opener at St. Louis.

*****

Talking to Gary Matthews, the winner of the 1973 National League Rookie of the Year Award with the Giants who threw his support behind Buster Posey (see Giants Beat), is always a pleasure. Here are some outtakes from the interview.

Matthews said that capturing the award filled him with pride, since his dressing-stall neighbor in the Giants clubhouse, the incomparable Willie McCovey, had received the honor in 1959.

“It was like carrying on tradition,” said Matthews, who relished beating out a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers rivals in the balloting, Ron Cey and Davey Lopes. They finished in a three-way tie for sixth.

The next three Giants teams Matthews played for finished below .500. “We were in a free-fall,” he said.

But, he added, surviving the competition for outfield jobs within the Giants organization made him a better player. At the time, the Giants’ farm system was still generating talented position players. And the outfield spots, thanks to Willie Mays, remained the most glamorous ones on the field.

“You took pride in trying to do the best you possibly could,” said Matthews, who proceeded to play for the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs in his 16-year career. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it the same way in terms of going through an organization like the San Francisco Giants, where you learned a lot of pride and the main thing — to win.”

*****

Speaking of Posey, he’s starting another streak. He’s batting .440 (11-for-25) while hitting safely in six consecutive games.

– Chris Haft

Many wins, many heroes

Wednesday, July 28

SAN FRANCISCO — When’s the last time the Giants have been this hot?

No need to answer that by citing a specific time frame in a specific year. It’s a rhetorical question more than anything.

Rarely in recent years, though, has it seemed like the Giants win virtually every day for even a moderately extended period. Just a few weeks ago, some insiders were doubting the club’s ability to sustain the kind of streak they’re on now — 17 victories in 21 games.

Buster Posey’s emergence, Aubrey Huff’s consistency and Andres Torres’ verve are just a few of the factors that have brought the Giants to brink of first place in the National League West and positioned them to continue their drive for a postseason berth.

Asked if he and his teammates stride into the clubhouse each day expecting to win, right-hander Sergio Romo said after Wednesday’s 10-9, 10-inning victory over Florida, “Realistically, yeah. We’ve always said from the beginning, even in Spring Training, that we have a good team, we’re going to compete and can play with the better teams in the league. That mindset is paying off. We know if we get our jobs done and back each other up, good things can happen.”

The Giants still lead the National League in runs during July after scoring sporadically during the season’s previous three months (they entered Wednesday as the league’s seventh-highest scoring team). They firmly believe that this is not an aberration.

“We’re not playing above our capabilities; we’re not playing below,” Romo said. “We’re just doing what we’re able to do. We’re finding our roles and trying to stick with that.”

As manager Bruce Bochy mentioned during his postgame media gathering that “we had the right guy up there” when Juan Uribe batted with two on and two outs in the ninth, it struck me that several Giants could fit the “right guy” description these days. Not just Uribe, who has hit eight home runs that either put the Giants ahead or tied the score. But also Posey. Or Huff. Lately, Travis Ishikawa. Freddy Sanchez, too. And, of course, Torres.

“Everybody who’s going up there, we feel confident with them,” Bochy said.

Weeks ago, Bochy pleaded for more “timely hitting.” He’s getting it.

“When you look up at the scoreboard at the end of the game and see that the number of runs scored is close to the number of hits you got, that just means you’re stringing together hits and getting them at the right time,” said center fielder Aaron Rowand, who’s hitting .329 in his last 26 games. “You can pound out 11 hits and walk away with three or four runs. It’s not like you didn’t swing the bats well, it’s just that you didn’t get the timely hitting. It’s just about being able to string together hits with runners on base and runners in scoring position.”

Rowand noted that the Giants’ ability to cope, even thrive, against top pitchers (Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson, to name a few) bodes well for them if they reach the postseason.

“Our pitching staff is good,” Rowand said, necessarily stating the obvious. “So if we can scratch some runs together against a good pitcher, our chances of winning the game are pretty decent. That’s what gives this team the possibility of being dangerous in the playoffs.”

P.S. To answer that question posed at the start of this entry, two other impressive streaks do come to mind. Both helped the Giants win division titles. In 1971, they started 37-14. In 1987, they closed with a 37-17 rush. This surge is different, since it’s occurring in midseason. Let’s see how long the Giants can ride this wave.

– Chris Haft

Uribe update: Day-to-day

Friday, May 21

OAKLAND — As expected, the tightness in Juan Uribe’s left hamstring is nothing serious. The infielder’s playing status is day-to-day, so he could be ready to resume activity at any time.

“It’s not too bad,” Uribe said.

Uribe said that he began sensing discomfort in his hamstring on Thursday. He felt it again on Friday, when he moved to his left to corral Ryan Sweeney’s first-inning grounder. Some observers also noticed that Uribe didn’t look right even when he merely stood in the batter’s box to draw his second-inning walk. By the third inning he was out of the game.

While Uribe sits for a day or two, as is likely, Giants manager Bruce Bochy will be spared some difficult decisions. Saturday, shortstop Edgar Renteria will leave the disabled list and will reclaim his starting role. That will force Bochy to bench either second baseman Freddy Sanchez or Uribe, who’s being unseated from shortstop and can also play second base.

Had Uribe remained healthy, this might not have been a problem on Saturday for Bochy, who indicated that Sanchez could receive a rest after playing three consecutive games. Bochy also could have used either Sanchez or Uribe as a designated hitter, since Bengie Molina, Friday’s DH, is likely to catch Saturday.

*****

Though 15 of the Giants’ last 18 games have been decided by three runs or fewer, two of the last three have been lopsided — Friday’s 6-1 loss to the A’s and Wednesday’s 13-1 shellacking at Arizona. The Giants have lost three games in a row and four of their last five.

*****

Need to derive something positive from the Giants’ performance Friday? Besides Barry Zito’s respectable effort, which bore little resemblance to his statistical line, Pablo Sandoval looked like himself as he rapped two sharp singles. He’s hitting .357 (10-for-28) during a modest seven-game hitting streak.

– Chris Haft

 

Burriss could be back this season

Thursday, March 25
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants remain hopeful that infielder Emmanuel Burriss can play later this season after undergoing surgery last Sunday on his twice-fractured left foot.

Noted foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson performed the procedure in Charlotte, N.C., replacing the screw inserted in Burriss’ foot after last July’s injury with a larger, longer screw. Ideally, this will prevent recurrences of the injury, such as the one Burriss endured in the Giants’ exhibition opener March 3. Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said Thursday that Dr. Anderson also extracted some bone marrow from Burriss’ hip and sprayed it across the fracture to facilitate healing.

Groeschner said that Burriss will on crutches for 10 to 14 days before shifting to a walking boot. If all goes well, the 25-year-old switch-hitter could be back on the field in 10 weeks.

Had Burriss remained healthy, he would have had a strong chance of making the Opening Day roster, given his ability to play second base and shortstop with equal skill. Kevin Frandsen’s just as versatile, if not more, but the Giants’ braintrust values Burriss’ speed — which he must strive to regain after his latest mishap.

******
Manager Bruce Bochy said that second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has been hitting off a tee, will graduate to taking soft-toss batting practice Friday. Sanchez is still expected to be sidelined until late April or early May as he recovers from left shoulder surgery.

*****

A group of five position players defeated the starting pitchers in a pregame bunting contest, with a Frandsen bunt in the final round providing the difference.

“I consider that an upset,” Bochy said.

In the early rounds, participants were required to drop bunts within rectangles marked by strings about 20 feet up the first- and third-base lines in fair territory. Then third-base coach Tim Flannery, the team’s bunting guru who organized the contest, converted the rectangles to triangles, reducing the area for a “successful” bunt by more than half.

“It was a tough drill,” Bochy said. “A lot of them laid down perfect bunts that weren’t in the box.”

Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Todd Wellemeyer represented the pitchers, while Frandsen, Andres Torres, Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval and Eugenio Velez bearing the standard for the position players.

– Chris Haft

Willie Mac awards Torres with advice; first cuts made

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Andres Torres owns a creditable .310 batting average. But as a switch-hitter who’s naturally bats right-handed, he’s susceptible to flaws hitting left-handed.

So Torres listened intently the other day when one of the best left-handed hitters in Giants history — heck, in all of history — summoned him for a chat. Hello, Mr. Willie Lee McCovey.

Sitting in front of the Giants dugout at Scottsdale Stadium, McCovey watched Torres take batting practice and noticed that the outfielder was wagging his bat excessively as he waited for the pitch. That might work for Barry Bonds, but not for Torres, who needs to hit line drives and grounders to capitalize on his speed.

“Wrapping” his bat — angling the barrel toward the pitcher — produced too many harmless fly balls.So McCovey advised Torres on Sunday to hold his bat straighter. “He told me to be more ‘quiet,’ because I was doing too much movement,” Torres said Tuesday.

Torres stuck with his old habits in Monday’s exhibition against Texas, but he tried McCovey’s method on Tuesday in batting practice and in the Giants’ 7-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Torres went 1-for-3 in the game and believes that McCovey’s advice will help.

“You have more time to go straight to the ball,” Torres said. “It makes sense.”

*****

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who remains limited to hitting balls off a tee, sounded doubtful about appearing in an exhibition to test his recovering left shoulder before the Giants leave Arizona on March 31.

“That hasn’t even been discussed,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez added that he has practiced tee hitting seven times so far. Taking “soft-toss” batting practice — hitting balls flipped underhanded — will be the next step in his progression.

*****

Buster Posey started his first game of the spring at first base and played error-free, though he was challenged occasionally by relatively unfamiliar plays — such as when he had to throw to Tim Lincecum covering first base in the third inning.

“He looks more and more comfortable over there,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Posey, who went 1-for-3 and is batting .429.

It’s fairly obvious, isn’t it? The more the Giants utilize with Posey like this, the more evident it is that they’re intensely curious about finding any way they can to get him on the field (and in the batter’s box) on the Major League level.

*****

The Giants announced their first round of roster cuts after Tuesday’s game. First baseman Brett Pill was optioned out while shortstop Ehire Adrianza, second baseman Nick Noonan, outfielders Wendell Fairley and Thomas Neal and catchers Johnny Monell, Hector Sanchez and Jackson Williams were reassigned to Minor League camp.

Also, right-hander Steve Johnson cleared waivers and was offered back to the Baltimore Orioles, his previous organization.

San Francisco selected Johnson, 22, for $50,000 in last December’s Rule 5 draft. Under terms of the draft, if the Giants determined that Johnson wouldn’t make their Opening Day roster, he had to be offered back to Baltimore for half of the $50,000 purchase price. Johnson recorded a 5.79 ERA in three Cactus League appearances.

The moves left the Giants with 56 players in Major League camp.

– Chris Haft

Posey stays hot; what will Giants do?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants will face some heavy thinking if Buster Posey sustains his offensive surge.

Posey collected two hits for the second day in a row Saturday in the Giants’ 8-7 split-squad exhibition loss to Oakland. The rookie catcher, renowned as San Francisco’s top position-player prospect, lifted his batting average to .368 and his slugging percentage to .632.

Because Posey has been expected to begin the season with Triple-A Fresno so he could gain experience, manager Bruce Bochy was asked if the 22-year old might be forcing the Giants’ braintrust to reconsider that plan.

“It’s good to see Buster swinging like this,” Bochy said. “It’s really a matter of time. Buster can hit. As we get deeper into spring I can answer those questions a little better. It’s early, but he’s doing what we wanted him to do.”

Bochy plainly stated that he won’t bury Posey on San Francisco’s bench. “We want to continue his development. We don’t want him sitting,” Bochy said. “It’s a matter of if we think he would get enough playing time to warrant being on the club to help us or to continue his progress so we have him ready.”

Bochy added that Posey “possibly” will start a game at first base to help the Giants gauge whether he could play there occasionally. But Bochy also reiterated that he won’t sacrifice Posey’s growth as a catcher to experiment with him at other positions. “I like the way he’s catching. I want to keep him sharp back there,” Bochy said.

*****

In quick succession:

– Tim Lincecum will receive four days’ rest, his full regular-season complement, before making his next start Tuesday against Cleveland. Madison Bumgarner will start Monday night’s split-squad game against Texas while a host of relievers will work the evening’s other split-squad game against San Diego.

– Kevin Pucetas remained in contention for the fifth starter’s spot by throwing three hitless innings in the Giants’ other split-squad contest, an 8-4 victory over Seattle. Pucetas is unscored upon in seven innings spanning three appearances and has allowed three hits. He has walked none and struck out three.

– Right-hander Joe Martinez, the fifth starter candidate who allowed four runs in one inning in his lone spring appearance, believes that the inflammation in his throwing elbow will have subsided enough to allow him to resume throwing in a couple of days.

– This isn’t shocking news, but Bochy made his strongest declaration yet regarding second baseman Freddy Sanchez’s unavailability for the April 5 regular-season opener at Houston. “He’s not going to be ready,” Bochy said of Sanchez, who’s recovering from a left shoulder injury. “He’s come along fine, but there’s not enough time.”

– First baseman Travis Ishikawa (torn ligaments in left foot) might be ready to resume playing in about a week, Bochy said.

– Right-hander Matt Cain admitted that he elevated some breaking pitches while allowing Oakland five runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. However, Cain still hasn’t walked a batter in 8 2/3 innings this spring. “It obviously means you’re around the strike zone,” Cain said, pleased with this development.

– Right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa problems, finally arrived in camp and struck out the only batter he faced, Ryan Sweeney, to end the fifth inning against Oakland.

– Chris Haft

Lincecum makes another tuneup

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s February 26, not April 26 or September 26, so the sight of Tim Lincecum yielding line drives to John Bowker on back-to-back pitches Friday shouldn’t be alarming.

If anything, it was an encouraging sign from Bowker, who’s competing for a reserve outfield spot.

Bowker pounded a curveball that Lincecum dangled and a fastball that the two-time Cy Young Award winner left over the plate. Lincecum then coaxed a swing and a miss from Bowker on a breaking ball.

Overall, it was a matter of “getting work in” for Lincecum, who threw approximately 40 pitches to Bowker, Jesus Guzman, Brett Pill and Hector Sanchez. Lincecum is scheduled to start Wednesday’s Cactus League opener against Seattle.

*****

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez has insisted that his recovery from left shoulder surgery is ahead of schedule, and he’s about to prove it. Sanchez is expected to begin fielding ground balls Saturday in his first baseball-related activity since his Dec. 23 operation.

“Awesome” was how Sanchez described his feelings.

Sanchez still isn’t certain when he’ll begin swinging a bat, and he remains likely to open the season on the 15-day disabled list.

*****

Bruce Bochy, who possesses a dry and underappreciated wit, spun a good line when he delivered the news that catcher Eli Whiteside’s wife, Amy, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Whit.

Somebody asked whether the infant had gray hair, referring to Whiteside’s prematurely whitening locks. Bochy paused for a beat and replied, “DARK gray.”

*****

MLB Network will provide delayed telecasts of four Giants exhibitions from the Cactus League: March 16 vs. Cleveland, March 20 vs. Cincinnati, March 25 vs. Oakland and March 27 against the Los Angeles Angels.

– Chris Haft 

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