Results tagged ‘ Freddy Sanchez ’

Epic showdown: Lincecum vs. Sandoval

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Imagining Pablo Sandoval facing Tim Lincecum is the sort of fantasy many fans probably entertain to break up the offseason monotony.

Well, fantasy became reality Wednesday at Scottsdale Stadium, where Lincecum pitched “live” (full-speed) batting practice to the Kung Fu Panda.

What unfolded was predictable. With pitchers being ahead of the hitters (have you heard that one before?) at this stage of Spring Training, Sandoval did not make authoritative contact off Lincecum. But Sandoval did swing four times in five pitches against the two-time National League Cy Young Award winner, so not much has changed.

Sandoval swung and missed on a Lincecum fastball and took an offspeed pitch before tapping two grounders to the right side. The first of those might have bounced through for a hit, depending on how the infielders might have been positioned. Sandoval finished his confrontation against Lincecum by fouling off a pitch.

“You’re always wondering if he’s going to hit one off the ground that you’re trying to bury, or that changeup right back at you that you left up by accident,” Lincecum said. “I see why he’s a tough guy to face.”

Lincecum, who’ll start next Wednesday’s Cactus League opener against Seattle, was pleased with his batting-practice stint overall. He also faced Nate Schierholtz, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey, whose line drive to right field was the closest semblance to a hit.

“Everything kind of felt where it should have been,” said Lincecum, who threw all of his pitches.

*****

In other camp developments, infielder-outfielder Mark DeRosa (left wrist) took live BP but only “tracked” pitches and didn’t swing. He’s still expected to be able to participate fully in workouts soon.

Manager Bruce Bochy said that second baseman Freddy Sanchez (left shoulder, left knee) could be ready to begin fielding groundballs by the weekend.

MLB Network will air the Giants’ “Inside the Clubhouse — Town Hall Meeting” on four separate occasions (all times Pacific): Sunday, 9:30 p.m.; Monday, 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.; Wednesday, midnight.

– Chris Haft

Tuesday’s Winter Meetings leftovers

INDIANAPOLIS — Each manager attending the Winter Meetings participates in a half-hour question-and-answer session with reporters. Here are highlights from Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s stint Tuesday:

– On Eugenio Velez’s on-base percentage, which has been lower than desired for a leadoff man (the role he’s expected to play in 2010): “It’s something to work on. We know how important that leadoff guy is in getting on and on-base percentage. Your hope is the experience of getting playing time is going to help increase his on-base percentage and his discipline at the plate and his hitting ability. This kid just continues to get better and better. So that’s part of the growing process for young players, especially a leadoff hitter. I think the more Eugenio leads off, you hope that he does get better and finds more ways to get on base for you.”

– On Edgar Renteria’s position in the batting order if Freddy Sanchez bats second: “Where we are right now, Sánchez could hit second or third. You know, it’s not etched in stone that he will be our No. 2 hitter depending where we are at going into Spring Training. It’s nice to have that flexibility with him, because I think he would be a pretty good No. 3-hole hitter, and I think he does a pretty good job in the 2-hole. I think we could put Edgar in the 2-hole, who has a lot of experience in there, and drop Freddy to the 3-hole.”

– Where does Fred Lewis fit in? “Right now, Fred is one of our outfielders who will compete for a spot with John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz, Velez, (Andres) Torres. I know that’s a lot there, but where we’re at right now, he’s in the mix with the other guys.”

– Any chance you might consider Fred as the leadoff guy, since he had a decent on-base percentage? “I put him there last year. Fred actually came up to me. He wasn’t too comfortable leading off, and so I took him out of that spot. But that was my hope for him, to lead off, because he does see pitches.  He does get on base. You know, he has speed and he could be a good leadoff hitter, but the guy has to want to do it and be comfortable.  He admitted that he was not real comfortable with it.”

– How do you see right field playing out? “It’s going to be competitive. Nate obviously is going to be in the mix there. He’s playing winter ball and doing a nice job in Puerto Rico. My guess is it will be deep into spring before we know how we are going to have those guys placed in the outfield.”

– Is there any reason for optimism about Aaron Rowand putting up better numbers overall? “For me, Aaron had a good first half.  Second half, he did tail off a little bit. But really, going into probably mid-August, his numbers were pretty good. … To have a normal year for him, that might be hitting .270 (with)15 to 20 home runs and driving in 75, 80 runs. Sure, I expect Aaron to have those kind of numbers at the end of the year.”

– You mentioned last year around this time that he may play fewer games, and he did. Seeing that he did tail off again, might you have the same mindset? “Yeah, I have talked about this, too. I haven’t with Aaron, but I did try to call him the other day. With the tailoff the last couple of years, it’s something I’ll sit down with Aaron this spring and talk to him about, maybe try to give him a break now and then in that first half to see if that can help him in the second half.”

– Chris Haft

No shame for Giants against Phils

SAN FRANCISCO — Truly rabid Giants fans still pondering What Might Have Been in 2009 can torture themselves further as the World Series begins Wednesday by recalling San Francisco’s efforts against the Philadelphia Phillies, who hope to capture their second consecutive Fall Classic.

The Giants were 4-3 against Philadelphia and easily could have fared better. They lost twice by one run in a Sept. 1-3 series at Citizens Bank Park. San Francisco took three of four from the Phils July 30-Aug. 2 at AT&T Park, emboldening those who suggested that the Giants would be tough to face in a short postseason series.

A game-by-game look at the season series showed that the Giants were alternately at their most impressive and most vulnerable against the National League champions:

July 30: Pablo Sandoval said he wasn’t acting out of revenge toward Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who left him off the NL All-Star team. But it sure looked like it as Sandoval homered, doubled and drove in four runs in a 7-2 Giants victory. Jonathan Sanchez turned in a typical performance, lasting only 5 2/3 innings but allowing just three hits while striking out seven.

July 31: The punchless Giants showed up, mustering four hits in a 5-1 loss. Then again, they faced the formidable Cliff Lee, who allowed two runners to reach scoring position while throwing a complete game. San Francisco trailed 1-0 when Brandon Medders and Jeremy Affeldt endured rare struggles as they combined to issue three walks and hit a batter in Philadelphia’s three-run seventh.

Aug. 1: Tim Lincecum was nothing short of magnificent, striking out eight and retiring the final 10 batters he faced in an eight-inning effort. Juan Uribe drove in the game’s only runs with a pair of sacrifice flies off Joe Blanton in a 2-0 Giants victory. Lincecum improved to 12-3 and Brian Wilson pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save.

Aug. 2: Trailing 3-1 against Cole Hamels, the undaunted Giants scored three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to pull away and win, 7-3. Eugenio Velez contributed to both uprisings, blooping a two-out single and scoring on Freddy Sanchez’s two-run double in the fifth before stroking a two-run single in the sixth.

Sept. 1: The Giants arrived in Philadelphia tied with Colorado for the Wild Card lead, but Hamels precipitated their September slide by allowing two hits in a 1-0 decision. Sanchez struck out eight in six innings, lapsing only when Shane Victorino singled leading off the fourth inning and scored on Ryan Howard’s one-out double. Rich Aurilia opened the ninth with a pinch-hit single but pinch-runner Andres Torres was thrown out trying to steal second base, ending the rally before it began.

Sept. 2: Brad Penny dominated in his Giants debut, surrendering five hits in eight shutout innings. The resurgent Torres hit a fifth-inning single to open the scoring before Uribe and Aaron Rowand delivered back-to-back homers in a three-run sixth to hasten San Francisco’s 4-0 win.

Sept. 3: An instant classic ended in frustration for the Giants. Lincecum struck out 11 in seven innings while allowing two runs and four hits. But Pedro Martinez was slightly better, blanking San Francisco for seven innings after Velez homered to open the game. After the Cy Young Award winners left the stage, the Giants put runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth against Brad Lidge before pinch-hitter Fred Lewis grounded into a force play to end Philadelphia’s 2-1 triumph.

– Chris Haft

All hope is not lost, but …

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants’ season and their playoff push are far from over. But after their 6-4, 14-inning loss Monday at Colorado, anybody feeling less than hopeful is excused.

In 40 years of following this team, this is among the most crushing come-from-ahead defeats I’ve witnessed (albeit on TV; I wasn’t on assignment for the Rockies series). Granted, the Giants are well-positioned to shrug off the effects of this setback and losing three of four to the Rockies, who lead them by four games in the National League Wild Card standings. If the Giants can recover against Arizona while Colorado struggles against the Dodgers in the next few days, San Francisco will be poised to regain ground when the Rockies visit AT&T Park next weekend.

After all, it’s not even September yet.

But for now, the Giants are reeling.

The bullpen that has sustained the Giants so well this season is in rough shape. Most relievers are suddenly overworked. Those who aren’t no longer inspire confidence, such as Merkin Valdez. If the Giants put second baseman Freddy Sanchez on the disabled list, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them fill his spot on the 25-man roster with a reliever, though lacking a full complement of position players handcuffed manager Bruce Bochy somewhat in the 14-inning marathon.

The Giants’ plight will be worsened if third baseman Pablo Sandoval is out for more than a few days with his calf injury.

Tuesday’s pregame hours could be intriguing as the Giants evaluate the fitness of Sandoval and their bullpen.

– Chris Haft

Sanchez, Joaquin in; Sadowski, Guzman out

SAN FRANCISCO — As expected, Freddy Sanchez’s status was officially added to the 25-man roster Saturday, but it’s unknown at this point whether he’ll be in the lineup against the Philadelphia Phillies.

First baseman Jesus Guzman was optioned to Triple-A Fresno to clear roster room for Sanchez.

Another sequence of player moves has been signed, sealed and delivered: Right-hander Ryan Sadowski was optioned to Fresno, while right-hander Waldis Joaquin was recalled from Double-A Connecticut. Joaquin could be here for only a few days — to be precise, until the Giants need a fifth starter, which will be Wednesday at Houston.

Sadowski reported discomfort in his shoulder after his four-inning stint Friday against Philadelphia, but had the malady been serious, he likely would have gone on the 15-day disabled list. After pitching shutout ball over 13 innings in his first two starts, Sadowski allowed 14 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings spanning four outings.

Joaquin opened the Giants’ eyes in Spring Training. He posted a 2.08 ERA and struck out nine in 8 2/3 innings spanning eight appearances. With Connecticut, he was 4-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 36 games, having allowed only 36 hits but walking 28 in 54 innings.

– Chris Haft 

Sanchez returns to scene of gem

SAN FRANCISCO — Tonight (Thursday) should be a special one at AT&T Park.

Not just because the Giants apparently have rebounded from their dreadful road trip.

Not just because the trades for Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez have given the team unseen but definite impetus toward the postseason.

Not just because the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies are in town.

It’s largely because Jonathan Sanchez will be making his first home start since no-hitting San Diego on July 10.

Can you believe that? Nearly three whole weeks have elapsed since Sanchez threw his gem. Of course, that’s due to the vagaries of the schedule. Sanchez’s feat immediately preceded the All-Star break, and then the Giants began the second half with their three-city sojourn.

When Sanchez takes the mound, fans ought to give him the roaring salute he deserves for becoming the first Giant in 33 years to throw a no-hitter. I’m sure they will.

– Chris Haft

Pittsburgh’s Sanchez speaks; Zito stays calm

SAN FRANCISCO — Courtesy of my Pittsburgh counterpart, Jenifer Langosch, here are some thoughts from Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has been linked in trade speculation to the Giants.

Asked if he knew whether anything was up between San Francisco and Pittsburgh, Sanchez said Tuesday, “As far as I know, it’s just speculation. Obviously, until something is in stone and it’s there, then it would be otherwise. I don’t know any more than anyone else right now.”

Sanchez acknowledged that it was somewhat strange to be sitting in the dugout across the field from the club he could be joining.

“But rumors are rumors,” he said. “There has been a lot of speculation on guys who haven’t gone anywhere at all. Speculation is speculation, but it is a little different when you are in the place that they’re talking about.”

When the Giants were in Pittsburgh recently, I talked to Sanchez for a Giants Magazine feature I did on Matt Cain. Sanchez was very friendly and extremely cooperative. From a reporter’s perspective, he seems like he’d be an excellent addition.

But if you’re reading this, you don’t care about that garbage. You just want somebody who can help the Giants score runs. Then know this: Sanchez is truly a professional hitter. That’s an overused cliche, but having watched him take batting practice, I believe it’s applicable. In Pittsburgh I saw him fire line drive after line drive the opposite way to right field, then concentrate on hitting the ball up the middle in his next round before concluding by yanking the ball to left field. Too many idiotic hitters waste their BP swings by trying to hit home runs. Not Sanchez. His was the best batting practice I’ve seen since Bill Madlock during his brief Giants tenure, or maybe Will Clark at his peak in the late ’80s-early ’90s.

*****

Barry Zito pitched 5 2/3 effective innings but was not involved in the decision. Zito yielded nine hits and walked two yet surrendered just one run, which the Pirates scored in the first inning on Andrew McCutchen’s double and Delwyn Young’s bloop single.

Zito left the bases loaded in the third inning by retiring Andy LaRoche on a popup. He also bequeathed two baserunners in the sixth to Sergio Romo (3-1), who seems to have regained manager Bruce Bochy’s confidence. Romo ended the threat by striking out McCutchen on three pitches.

But Zito plainly wanted to work out of the jam himself.

“I definitely support the team, but yeah, I didn’t expect to get taken out at that point,” Zito said. He diplomatically added, “I certainly support Boch’s decision as manager. He’s been in the game a long time. It worked out.”

– Chris Haft

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