Results tagged ‘ Pablo Sandoval ’
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
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
SAN FRANCISCO — When it comes to hitting, Kevin Mitchell is a flat-out genius.
That was the overwhelming impression he left me with during the brief but memorable time I spent covering him — the strike-shortened 1994 season, when Mitchell hit .326 with 30 home runs and 77 RBIs in only 380 at-bats for the Cincinnati Reds. Mitchell’s 1.110 OPS that year actually exceeded his 1.023 OPS from his 1989 Most Valuable Player season with the Giants.
Anyway, Mitchell knows hitting. So when he heaped praise upon Pablo Sandoval, whose two-run homer hastened the Giants’ 7-1 victory Sunday over the Oakland A’s, it meant something.
“He reminds me of myself,” said Mitchell, one of a handful of alumni still around after Friday’s and Saturday’s festivities honoring San Francisco’s 1989 National League pennant-winning club. ”He’s letting it go. He’s not scared.”
Then Mitchell added, “He’s not the mailman.”
“He ain’t delivering no mail. He ain’t walking,” Mitchell explained.
NOW we get it.
Mitchell seems to understand hitting much more than the average baseball person. During a chat with him while watching the Giants take batting practice Friday, he complained about the preponderance of players using light bats — or bats he considered light. Hitting the ball with something behind it, he said, is essential. Mitchell himself used a 36-inch, 36-ounce club, about two inches longer and five ounces heavier than a lot of players like to swing.
Of course, not many players could handle a bat of such imposing dimensions.
Back in our Cincinnati season, Mitchell waited in the dugout before it was his turn to hit during another batting-practice session, and we watched a reserve outfielder who happened to own something like a .220 average hit line drive after line drive. Mitchell said, without citing the hitter’s name or anybody else’s, “Isn’t it funny how some guys have one kind of swing during batting practice and another kind of swing in games?” Translation: The pressure gets to some players.
Not Kevin Mitchell. And, from what we’ve seen since last August, not Pablo Sandoval.
– Chris Haft
PHOENIX — Among the most exasperating sights for Giants fans is watching Bengie Molina plod up the first-base line as he runs out a ground ball, force himself to stop at first base on what would be a double for any other player or put on the brakes at third base in the knowledge that he’d be thrown out at home … which was the case in Wednesday’s ninth inning, when Molina couldn’t score from first base on Pablo Sandoval’s double.
If you think Molina doesn’t care about this, you’re wrong. Making fun of Molina for being slow would be like making fun of a teenager with acne. They’re painfully aware of their flaws. In Molina’s case, his lead feet prompt him to pursue excellence in other facets of the game that much more ardently.
He addressed this eloquently after the Giants’ 6-4 victory over Arizona.
“This is what God gave me,” Molina said, referring to his ponderous pace. “I have to deal with it. If it were up to me, I’d score every time they hit. That’s why I want to do way much more than running. That’s why I want to catch, that’s why I want to block balls, that’s why I want to throw guys out, that’s why I want to call a good game for the guys, that’s why I want to hit and get RBIs. Because there’s one part of my game that I feel bad about. But I want to do so many other things to be able to overcome that.”
Lest you think that Molina was being too hard on himself, he paused and added, with a tiny grin on his face, “I think I’m doing pretty good.”
I think the Giants would agree.
As promised, the Diamondbacks delivered their video tribute to Randy Johnson after the third inning. It was extremely brief, lasting about a minute. The montage of film clips included snippets from Johnson’s perfect game in 2004 and his 20-strikeout game — both of which he pitched during his first stint with Arizona (1999-2004). He also pitched for the D-backs from 2007-08.
D-backs fans, who haven’t seemed to embrace Johnson as they should, cheered as highlights of Johnson’s 300th career victory last Wednesday in Washington were shown, accompanied by Jon Miller’s call once the game ended and the Big Unit’s milestone became official.
Johnson responded by standing on the top step of the visitors’ dugout and holding his cap aloft.
– Chris Haft
MIAMI — After collecting two hits against the New York Mets on May 17, Bengie Molina was batting .304. He entered Friday night’s series opener against the Florida Marlins hitting .247. During this slump, Molina remained in the cleanup spot in the Giants’ batting order.
This didn’t mean that manager Bruce Bochy was sitting idly by. Actually, Bochy said Friday, he considered moving Pablo Sandoval to the four-hole and even consulted Molina about it.
“Bochy’s the manager and [Brian] Sabean’s the general manager,” Molina said. “Whatever they want for this team, I don’t let that worry me.”
One can imagine that Sandoval’s two-run homer, which accounted for the sum total of the Giants’ offense in their 2-1 victory Friday over the Florida Marlins, might sway Bochy toward making a change. But Molina also stroked two singles, one of them preceding Sandoval’s homer.
Hence the slight but perceptible change in Bochy’s outlook regarding the cleanup spot …
Pregame: “We’ll see how it goes the next couple of days.” (Translation — a change is possible)
Postgame: “If I felt like [a change] would lighten the load on him … The way it went tonight, I’m going to leave it the way it is.” (Translation — Molina ain’t budging for the foreseeable future)
Meanwhile, Sandoval outdid himself with his wild hacking Friday. When he wasn’t homering, he was swinging more freely than usual — which takes a lot, in his case.
As Sandoval explained, he simply was trying to be himself: “Get my pitch, [be] the Pablo I am — aggressive at home plate. Get a pitch to hit a line drive. That [the home run] was the best swing I had in the game.”
– Chris Haft
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
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.
SEATTLE — Pablo Sandoval has a tender right elbow which he injured in Friday night’s seventh inning as he dove to stop a Kenji Johjima grounder. This limited Sandoval to designated-hitter duties Saturday, a role he’ll probably occupy again Sunday.
But Sandoval’s diminished ability to throw affects more than just whether he can play third base.
Manager Bruce Bochy will be forced to keep catcher Bengie Molina in the lineup until Sandoval can throw again. Molina already has started eight games in a row and might not rest again until Thursday’s scheduled off-day. Meanwhile, his batting average has taken a beating, dropping from .304 to .276 during a 1-for-17 skid entering Saturday. Bochy said he wanted Sandoval to catch Sunday, but Molina likely will have to keep toiling.
Bochy said that emergency No. 3 catcher Kevin Frandsen is not ready to start a game behind the plate.
Summoning a catcher from Triple-A Fresno is an option — it’d probably be Eli Whiteside, since Steve Holm was demoted last week and has to stay put for at least 10 days — yet neither Bochy nor general manager Brian Sabean indicated that this would happen soon.
More stuff from general manager Brian Sabean, who spoke Saturday with reporters covering the Giants (a main story is on the website):
On closer Brian Wilson, who has lost three of his last five outings while compiling a 12.28 ERA: “[He has] had some trials and tribulations, but that’s going to be natural; He’s still cutting his teeth doing that job.”
On the team in general, other than its lousy hitting: “I like the effort and I like the fact that we’re doing two things you have to do to compete, and that’s pitch and play defense.”
When asked if he has seen enough of first baseman Travis Ishikawa to evaluate him fully: “I don’t think so. … With him it’s consistency. We’ve seen him have some really good at-bats against some really good pitching and then just the opposite. In his case, while we really love the defense. … The strikeouts (29 in 93 at-bats entering Saturday) don’t help and the low on-base percentage (.298) doesn’t help.”
On Pablo Sandoval’s progress at third base: “At least in this snapshot, he’s shown that he can play that position and it’s more than making routine plays. He’s much more accomplished than I think we all thought, at least up to this point.”
Finally, Sabean squashed any speculation that he came here to get fired or discuss his job security with managing general partner Bill Neukom, who’s also in town. They did not discuss his job status, said Sabean, whose contract expires after this season. Sabean planned to spend the weekend scouting amateur players for next month’s draft, but decided to see the big club after the excruciating three-game sweep in San Diego.”I don’t want the reputation of not being around when things are a little upside down,” Sabean said.
– Chris Haft
SEATTLE — In a mild surprise, the Giants optioned Eugenio Velez to Triple-A Fresno to clear room for infielder Juan Uribe, who was reinstated from the bereavement list Friday.<p/>
Velez actually had begun to hit proficiently despite playing sporadically. He collected two hits in each of two starts during the San Diego series, hiking his batting average from .111 to .194.
But the Giants want Velez to play more regularly. And manager Bruce Bochy indicated that with only Bengie Molina and Pablo Sandoval available to catch, San Francisco can use the versatility of Frandsen, who has sharpened his skills at the position behind the scenes. Bochy said that Frandsen’s skills behind the plate exceeded those of a typical “emergency” catcher.
Also, as expected, Edgar Renteria returned to shortstop after missing six games with a strained right hamstring. Though Renteria entered Friday hitting a pedestrian .256, he ranked second on the club with 17 RBIs upon being sidelined. Bochy acknowledged that the Giants could have used Renteria during the San Diego series, which consisted of three low-scoring one-run defeats.
“He’s such a professional hitter,” Bochy said of Renteria. “We missed him. We played such tight ballgames. A guy like that could have made a difference in all those games.”
Seattle-area native Tim Lincecum held a dugout news conference for local media hungry for a word from The One Who Got Away.
Lincecum said all the right things, including when he was asked about whether he dwells on the Mariners’ bypassing him in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. “Not any more,” Lincecum said. “It’s just one of those things that happened and you go with it. I’m happy where I am.”
Lincecum spun a good line when asked what he remembered about Randy Johnson, who he grew up watching when the left-hander starred for the Mariners in the ’90s.
“The mullet and the fastball,” Lincecum said. “Not necessarily in that order.”
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Zito’s fielding goofs in Wednesday’s third inning ultimately seemed insignificant. After all, he escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam with no runs scoring by striking out Josh Willingham.
But both Zito and manager Bruce Bochy made the same point after the Giants’ 6-3 loss: The left-hander’s misplays forced him to throw more pitches, thus causing him to spend extra energy which he could have used later in the game.
First, Zito mishandled Shairon Martis’ comebacker for an error. One out later, he swatted at Nick Johnson’s grounder, which likely would have resulted in an inning-ending groundout to shortstop. Instead, Zito deflected the ball off course, leaving Renteria with no play.
“That was not a smart decision,” Zito said.
Bochy said that he considered using Pablo Sandoval to catch Wednesday. But, said Bochy, “That would be pushing it.” Bochy was wary of how the position’s demands might have affected Sandoval’s left ankle, which the Kung Fu Panda tweaked while running out his would-be triple in Tuesday’s seventh inning. Sandoval’s trip ended with a pratfall between second and third base.
“He looked like a turtle on its back,” Bochy said. “But he was on his stomach.”
Bochy opted to give one more day of rest to left fielder Fred Lewis, who sat out Tuesday’s game with a sore left toe. “It is, basically, a turf toe,” Bochy said, citing the malady familiar to athletes.
Fortunately for the Giants and Lewis, he lined a pinch-hit, RBI double in Wednesday’s ninth inning. That ended a stretch of 31 at-bats and eight games without an extra-base hit for Lewis.