Results tagged ‘ Juan Uribe ’

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

 

Plenty to salvage for Giants in defeat

Saturday, May 8

NEW YORK — The Giants actually did a lot more right than they did wrong on Saturday. But their 5-4 loss to the New York Mets obscured that.

Many of their 44 plate appearances resulted in quality at-bats. Aubrey Huff made solid contact each time up. Aaron Rowand, after going 0-for-3, came through with a key single in the Giants’ two-run eighth inning that tied the score. Juan Uribe had a big two-out RBI single in the fourth. Eli Whiteside reached base safely in three of his four plate appearances, singling solidly twice.

Nate Schierholtz lined a pinch-hit single to lead off the eighth against Johan Santana and is now batting .471 (8-for-17) against left-handers. Facing Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for the second game in a row, pinch-hitter John Bowker didn’t hit another home run, but managed to coax a 10th-inning walk.

As for struggling Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda still looked like he was fighting himself. But he wasn’t helpless, either. He blooped a fourth-inning single to right-center field and launched an eighth-inning sacrifice fly off Santana on a two-strike count. “That was a little relief for him,” manager Bruce Bochy said, summarizing Sandoval’s day. “I thought he took some better swings.”

Bochy will take all of this into account as he assembles Sunday’s lineup. He didn’t rule out resting Sandoval, who has started all 29 games at third base. Schierholtz likely will return to right field; his prowess against lefties — the Giants face Mets southpaw Oliver Perez — doesn’t hurt.

On to the pitching. Brandon Medders recorded what might have been his best outing of the season, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings to trim his ERA from 6.23 to 4.76. Jeremy Affeldt blew away the Mets for two innings, striking out two. The pair of eighth-inning hits he allowed were bloops that no fielder could reach. “That was the best I’ve felt all year,” Affeldt said. This is particularly encouraging for the Giants, who are relying on Affeldt to be a shutdown setup man.

“I was aggressive early [in the count],” he said. “I was getting strike one instead of falling behind early. I threw curveballs for strikes when I needed to and for balls when I needed to.”

About the only thing the Giants neglected to do was win.

– 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

Pondering ‘Willie Mac’ candidates

If you’re proud of your association with the Giants — whether you’re a player, club employee or fan — then Friday should be one of the biggest nights of the year.

Friday happens to be when the recipient of the “Willie Mac” Award, given annually to the most inspirational Giant, will be honored in a pregame ceremony. The award is named for Willie McCovey, who needs no introduction. Nor is it necessary to explain why the distinction was named for him. If you saw McCovey play and witnessed his grace, class and professionalism, or if you ever met him and realized that he possesses those same qualities off the field, you know that this isn’t any ordinary award and that Friday’s event isn’t just a routine observance.

The Giants have several worthy Willie Mac candidates this year, which helps explain why they’re destined for their first above-.500 finish since 2004. This is just my opinion, but I’d like to think others would share it. Here are the players who come to mind:

JUAN URIBE. Tales of his positive clubhouse influence followed him from Chicago, where the White Sox adored him. Uribe quickly began spreading that same good cheer among the Giants. Sometimes he has done it with the hearts games he led during Spring Training or his daily sessions of attack dominoes with Edgar Renteria, Brian Wilson and others. Sometimes he has done it with his veteran’s presence, such as when he went to the mound to counsel Jonathan Sanchez during a tight moment Wednesday night. Often he has done it simply through humor and remaining upbeat. Asked by one teammate if he ever felt down, Uribe’s response was, “Uribe’s never down.” And, of course, he has proven invaluable on the field.

BENGIE MOLINA. The Willie Mac winner in 2007-08 has remained a steady, calming influence. Pablo Sandoval admires him. Pitchers relish throwing to him. Every teammate appreciates his earnest, competitive spirit. It’s easy to say that the Giants shouldn’t re-sign Molina, who’s eligible for free agency, but they’ll miss a lot of his intangibles if they don’t. He’d be the award’s only three-time winner if he gets it again.

EDGAR RENTERIA. Since Renteria’s so quiet and unassuming, he tends to exercise his influence subtly or behind the scenes. He hasn’t delivered the offense the Giants sought when they signed him to a two-year, $18.5 million contract, but players, coaches and front-office members rave about his professionalism and impact on the team, particularly among the Giants’ younger Latin American players.

RANDY JOHNSON. Wednesday night’s telecast partially illustrated why Johnson’s on this list. There was, caught by the camera, filling Matt Cain’s ear with something. Whatever it was, it was valuable. The Giants’ pitchers have benefited immeasurably from having a 300-game winner and five-time Cy Young Award recipient in their midst who has been so willing to share his wisdom. “This is a guy we all look up to,” Barry Zito said. “I want to pattern myself after him in many ways.”

PABLO SANDOVAL. Why not? He plays hard, he’s always having fun and he’s the most effervescent Giant since Willie Mays circa 1951. Moreover, he has an appreciation for McCovey, as he revealed when he recorded his first “Splash Hit” home run on the 50th anniversary of Stretch’s Major League debut.

BARRY ZITO. This is Zito’s 10th year in the Majors, so he knows a little something about how to act as a big leaguer. He has disseminated his wisdom among younger players in tactful yet definitive fashion. Moreover, Zito has gained respect by improving his performance while ignoring the fan abuse he has prompted.

– Chris Haft

Don’t forget Cain, Uribe … and Viva Gigantes!

SAN FRANCISCO — With the Giants’ 5-4 victory Tuesday over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Matt Cain has gone winless in six starts. Don’t let that fool you.

Cain has a 2.72 ERA in this span, allowing 36 hits and nine walks in 46 1/3 innings. That computes to an impressive average of 8.74 hits and walks per nine innings. He’s obviously pitching like the All-Star he is.

Cain remained dominant at AT&T Park, where he owns a 6-2 record with a 2.28 ERA. He has pitched at least seven innings in all eight of his starts since the All-Star break to increase his total to 177 1/3, making him a cinch to surpass the 200-inning mark he aims at every year.

*****

Arizona ace Dan Haren entered the game with a 1.65 ERA in nine starts against National League West clubs. But Juan Uribe, enduring a 1-for-15 skid, pierced Haren’s invincibility with a second-inning home run. All six of Uribe’s hits against Arizona this year have gone for extra bases.

The D-backs played without third baseman Mark Reynolds, who was experiencing flu-like symptoms, and Justin Upton, who remained on the disabled list with an oblique injury. But Haren was the great equalizer.

*****

The Giants improved to 7-1 all-time when wearing their “Gigantes” jerseys. They donned them Tuesday to observe Latino Heritage Night.

– Chris Haft

 

Defense helps Lincecum; Wilson lauds Mariano; Rowand hurt

ST. LOUIS — For the first 4 2/3 innings Monday night, while it seemed as if Tim Lincecum might pitch a no-hitter, a handful of close calls and sparkling plays stood out.

Albert Pujols ended the fourth inning by scorching a line drive directly at third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Had it traveled a few feet in any other direction, it would have been a double.

Second baseman Juan Uribe preserved Lincecum’s perfect game in the fifth inning by darting up the middle to snare Chris Duncan’s smash on one hop and make an off-balance but strong throw to first base for the out.

Then Rick Ankiel swung at Lincecum’s very next pitch and broke his bat but managed to bloop the ball into right-center field for a single.

Still, I remain convinced that Lincecum or Matt Cain will throw a no-hitter someday.

Even Bruce Bochy admitted that thoughts of Lincecum pitching a no-hitter crossed his mind, though that’s not the kind of thing a manager often admits.

“To be honest, yeah,” Bochy said. “That’s a good-hitting ballclub over there. But with Timmy, sure.”

But Bochy added, with Ankiel’s hit squarely in mind, “It takes a lot of luck to throw a no-hitter.”

*****

Giants closer Brian Wilson, who has listened ad nauseum to coaches and managers telling him that he must mix up his pitches more, seized upon Mariano Rivera’s milestone 500th save as an example of a pitcher who excels without variety.

“The guy’s gone after hitters with one pitch his whole career,” Wilson said, referring to Rivera’s cut fastball. “Pitching coaches always harp on getting a third pitch, a fourth pitch, and he has always been the case where I’d say, ‘Well, Mariano’s got one pitch, so” — and then dot, dot, dot.

“It’s such a good pitch that it’s really four different types of pitches. He can throw it front door to a righty, back door to a lefty, he can throw it to the other side of the plate and he can throw it down. Maybe that’s all you need. His plate zone because of that pitch is expanded.”

*****

Center fielder Aaron Rowand left Monday’s game in the seventh inning after he was hit above the left knee by a pitch from St. Louis’ Clayton Mortensen, who was making his Major League debut. Rowand hopes to play Tuesday, though he sported an ugly bruise on his leg that’s likely to swell.

– Chris Haft 

Ishikawa continues to hit

SAN FRANCISCO — It was encouraging to see first baseman Travis Ishikawa hit so proficiently Wednesday, when he doubled and homered in three at-bats.

“I was aggressive early [in the count] and took advantage of mistakes,” the ever-humble Ishikawa said.

Though it was understandable why Ishikawa got squeezed out of the lineup when Pablo Sandoval hurt his elbow and moved to first base, it happened just as he was beginning to hit proficiently. He went 7-for-11 in a three-game stretch May 25-27. Since then, he had started exactly once until Wednesday.

It’ll be interesting to see who manager Bruce Bochy uses in the infield during the Texas series. Juan Uribe, who can play second base, shortstop and third, supposedly will be ready to rejoin the lineup Friday. Asked before Wednesday’s game whether Uribe will play second or third, Bochy coyly said, “I’ll let you know.”

Though Matt Downs has looked extremely competent at the plate in his two games with the Giants, don’t be surprised if Friday’s lineup includes Ishikawa at first base, Uribe at second and Sandoval at third.

– Chris Haft

 

Going for the Downs, but maybe not for long

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s easy to envision another change in the Giants’ second-base picture within a few days.

By next Monday, Kevin Frandsen will have spent his requisite 10 days in the Minor Leagues. As much as Frandsen impressed as the Giants in his two stints with them, they’ll likely summon him yet again — unless Matt Downs, the second baseman of the moment, plays so well that San Francisco has to keep him in the Majors.

Or the Giants could hand the job to utiltyman Juan Uribe once his hamstring heals. .

Something else to ponder: How much time will elapse before Burriss forces the Giants to recall him? I imagine they’ll give him about 100 at-bats, possibly more, to try to develop the offensive skills that manager Bruce Bochy recommended — bunting, slapping the ball on the ground, basically acting more like a true leadoff hitter.

With all due respect to Downs, he’s unlikely to become the Giants’ full-time second baseman.

– Chris Haft

Uribe has steady job — for now

SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Uribe is doing more than just filling in for third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

“To be honest with you, he’s our everyday third baseman right now, until we do finally decide what’s the best place to leave Pablo,” manager Bruce Bochy said before Saturday’s Giants-St. Louis Cardinals game.

In short, the Giants could decide that their best infield includes Uribe at third base and Sandoval, who moved across the diamond after missing four games with tightness in his right elbow, at first base.

Defense ultimately could be a determining factor. Travis Ishikawa, who was starting to hit proficiently before losing his role to Sandoval, is a superior defender at first. Uribe is more than capable defensively, but Sandoval frequently made highlight-quality plays at third before being injured.

The Giants signed Uribe precisely for instances such as this one. He’s a former regular, having averaged 490 at-bats per year with the Chicago White Sox from 2004-07, who remains capable of playing second base, shortstop or third on an everyday basis for prolonged stretches.

– Chris Haft

 

Sandoval returns as first baseman; Romo in, Frandsen down

SAN FRANCISCO — In returning to the Giants’ lineup Friday after missing four games with tightness in his right elbow, Pablo Sandoval moved across the diamond from third base to first.

The change made sense, at least from the viewpoint of Sandoval’s care and feeding. He’ll be required to make fewer challenging throws as a first baseman, thus reducing the risk of re-injury.

But, as manager Bruce Bochy said, “If we felt there was a risk, he wouldn’t be out there. He’s comfortable throwing now.”

Bochy also admitted, “Is he 100 percent? Probably not,” adding that Sandoval’s stay at first base “could (last) a while.”

Sandoval leads all Giants regulars in hitting (.304 entering Friday), explaining the club’s eagerness to welcome him back. “We need his bat in the lineup,” Bochy said.

Sandoval’s shift will trim Travis Ishikawa’s playing time at first base. Ishikawa had been surging, going 7-for-11 in his previous three games to raise his average from .219 to .262. Expect Ishikawa, a superior defender to Sandoval, to enter games in the late innings when the Giants are tied or ahead.

Juan Uribe will continue to play third base while Sandoval mans first, a position he played 17 times for the Giants last year.

*****

Right-hander Sergio Romo’s activation from the 15-day disabled list prompted the Giants to option infielder Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Fresno. Frandsen went hitless in 16 at-bats during his six-game stint with the Giants.

“There’s not a lot of playing time for him here right now,” Bochy said. We don’t want him sitting here. It’s not going to help his career.”

Frandsen impressed the Giants with his polished defensive skills at shortstop, a position he’s still learning. “He’s a lot more under control and playing with a lot more confidence,” Bochy said.

Frandsen left the clubhouse before reporters were admitted. “Like anybody, you don’t want to go [to the Minors], but he understood,” Bochy said.

*****

The Giants have been invited to tour the White House on Wednesday while they’re in the nation’s capital to play the Washington Nationals. A Giants media relations official said that President Obama won’t be around, so the ballclub won’t get the royal treatment that championship sports teams receive when welcomed by the Chief Executive.

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