Results tagged ‘ Pablo Sandoval ’
SAN FRANCISCO — As I write this, there’s still a little more than an hour left (at least in the Pacific time zone) in Yogi Berra’s 84th birthday.
What does that have to do with the Giants?
Here’s the connection: Pablo Sandoval’s three-run, ninth-inning homer made him the hero of Tuesday night’s 9-7 victory over Washington. And, on Sunday in Los Angeles (I could have blogged this on that day, but for some reason decided to hold off), no less an expert than Dodgers manager Joe Torre compared Sandoval to Berra, the Hall of Fame catcher who was quite a free swinger himself.
That’s probably the most flattering comparison Sandoval has prompted since he ascended to the Majors last August.
“He’s like a Yogi Berra from both sides of the plate,” Torre said, then added half-jokingly, “How do you get him to swing? All you do is throw it.”
Torre proceeded to explain the challenge of pitching to hackers such as Sandoval.
“It’s very difficult if you’re the catcher. ’Where do I go here?’ ” Torre said. “We can’t throw him a strike, but that doesn’t mean anything because he can hit the other stuff. It’s not a knock at the kid because he’s successful. And so was Yogi Berra. [It] is not comfortable for me to sit here [watching Sandoval] and think, even if we’re ahead on the count, ‘We’ve got him.’ “
– Chris Haft
LOS ANGELES — Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated Saturday that he soon could employ a lineup featuring Pablo Sandoval at first base and Juan Uribe at third base.
The odd man out would be Travis Ishikawa, who started 20 of San Francisco’s first 29 games at first base. But Ishikawa entered Saturday batting .191 and was hitless in his last 16 at-bats.
By contrast, Sandoval, who rested Saturday after catching the previous evening, was hitting .298. And Uribe, who started his second consecutive game at third base and third game in a row overall, had hiked his average to .289 after collecting two hits in three of his previous five games.
Asked if a Sandoval-Uribe tandem were possible, Bochy replied, “Yes, it’s something we can do. It is an option. It’s something we have talked about.”
Bochy observed that Sandoval, the regular third baseman whose skill set includes playing first base and catching, would need virtually no preparation to play a game at first base, due to his excellent ability to adjust.
San Francisco’s offensive struggles might force Bochy to make this move sooner than later. They certainly explain Uribe’s increased presence.
“That’s why I’ve tried to get him a little more in the mix,” Bochy said. “He gives an added pop in the lineup when he’s in there.”
Bochy has not given up on Ishikawa, though he said somewhat ominously that he hasn’t determined how much longer the Giants will continue to give the 25-year-old rookie opportunities to recover his offensive equilibrium. For the immediate future, Bochy said that he might prolong Ishikawa’s mental break by resting him on Sunday
“Travis has had his games where he throws out good at-bats and he’s had his games where he’s struggled,” Bochy said. “He’s battling his confidence a little bit.”
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO — Third baseman Pablo Sandoval left Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers after three innings with a tight left groin.
Sandoval spent plenty of time running the bases in the first couple of innings. He singled and scored on Bengie Molina’s triple in the first before grounding into an inning-ending force play in the second. Juan Uribe replaced Sandoval in the lineup.
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO — Manager Bruce Bochy sounded like an editor Wednesday when he said that adding catcher Steve Holm to the club will enable the Giants to have “better coverage.”
Bochy meant better coverage at catcher, a position Bengie Molina had manned for every inning of the previous 13 games. The Giants added Holm not just to serve as Molina’s occasional backup while Pablo Sandoval continues to play third base. Holm will enable the Giants to rest Molina in the late innings, sparing the veteran some wear and tear.
And, of course, Bochy still has the option of doing what he did Wednesday: Starting Sandoval behind the plate and inserting capable utilityman Juan Uribe at third. If Bochy had to remove Sandoval for some reason or switch him to another position, Molina could continue to rest, as long as Holm’s around.
Before the Giants could recall Holm, he had to heal a bruised right elbow he sustained when he was hit by a pitch on April 13. Holm rested a few days before playing Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Fresno.
Most observers figured that the Giants would summon Holm at some point, given their stated desire to keep a three-catcher contingent (including Sandoval). But Holm himself assumed nothing.
“I didn’t know,” Holm said. “You don’t want to get caught up in stuff like that.”
As has been reported, Holm’s arrival shrank the pitching staff to 11, since reliever Alex Hinshaw was optioned to Fresno. But with only four scheduled off-days between May 1 and the All-Star break that begins July 13, San Francisco’s pitchers could be susceptible to fatigue, meaning another move will have to be made.
“My guess is we’ll go back to 12 (pitchers) at some point,” Bochy said.
Once the Giants feel that need, Holm won’t necessarily be the position player who disappears to the Minors. Eugenio Velez or Andres Torres could be vulnerable instead.
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO – Again delighting purists everywhere, manager Bruce Bochy said that the Giants will continue to take infield practice before the first game of each series or at least once per series.
Bochy pointed out Sunday that without this drill, outfielders would rarely have chances to throw to cutoff men and bases. Infield practice enables them to refine this fundamental.
Don’t expect the Giants to take infield before Tuesday’s home opener, though. “Too much adrenaline,” a coach said.
Pablo Sandoval did not start Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Dodgers due to what Bochy called “a little bit of the crud,” citing the catch-all term for the flu-like malady that typically nags players during Spring Training. Sandoval also caught on Saturday and could have used a rest.
He still tried to contribute, though. Sandoval rapped a pinch-hit double in the sixth inning and ended spring with a gaudy .457 batting average.
SAN FRANCISCO — Before Friday night’s exhibition against the Oakland A’s, Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that the club’s braintrust is inclined to open the regular season with a 12-man pitching staff rather than an 11-man contingent.
Reasons are varied. Starters might not be prepared to pitch deep into games this early in the season. Rookie right-hander Joe Martinez might be well-suited for long relief duty, but if he is unavailable or not even on the team, the Giants will need multiple one-inning relievers to fill the “long” role.
Bochy acknowledged that the Giants might change their minds on this subject before they announce roster cuts, which could come as early as after Saturday’s game against the A’s in Oakland.
Also subject to change is the two-catcher versus three-catcher issue. The Giants are likely to keep Pablo Sandoval as their lone extra catcher — a considerable risk, given his status as the starting third baseman — and demote Steve Holm to Triple-A Fresno.
At the very least, Bochy gave Holm his due. “Steve Holm has played very well,” Bochy said of the Sacramento native, who entered the game batting .279. If it’s any comfort to Holm and his fans, Bochy indicated that the two-catcher plan might not last much beyond April, when the team has four scheduled off-days.
Quickies: The Giants and A’s mutually agreed to use designated hitters Friday, even though they were playing in a National League park. Bochy said that he didn’t want Randy Johnson, his starting pitcher, bothering with the task of hitting. “With Randy going today, we just want him to concentrate on pitching,” Bochy said.
– Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, whose left index finger has sufficiently healed from his cooking accident, threw in the bullpen and, in Bochy’s words, is “good to go” and will start Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Dodgers.
– The Giants will summon six players from Minor League camp to use as substitutes for their final two exhibitions: outfielder Mike McBryde, catcher Eli Whiteside, right-handers Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz, and infielders Matt Downs and Jake Wald.
– Chris Haft
SAN FRANCISCO — The numbers say that Tim Lincecum has allowed 10 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings spanning his last three starts against Major League competition. That’s a 5.87 ERA, which isn’t what the Giants expect from their Cy Young Award winner.
But the eyes say that Lincecum looks ready for his Opening Day assignment on April 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers at AT&T Park.
Lincecum allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings Thursday against the A’s and struck out eight — six, a still-decent number, excepting A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill’s two punchouts. The Giants ace retired the hitters he needed to subdue. Jason Giambi struck out twice, Matt Holliday went 0-for-2 with runners on base and Jack Cust went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
“I felt like I had all my pitches going today,” Lincecum said. “My curveball felt the best it has in a while; the changeup was good.”
Lincecum mildly complained about the location of his fastball, the pitch Eric Chavez hammered for a two-run, fourth-inning homer. I have a hunch that Lincecum wouldn’t throw the same pitch to the same type of hitter in the same situation during the regular season. Or, if he did, he’d make it a better fastball.
“You think you can sneak one by him every once in a while,” Lincecum said. “That one was, I’m guessing, right in his wheelhouse. He put a pretty good swing on it.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled Lincecum in the sixth inning after he walked Chavez on four pitches with two outs and one run in. “I didn’t feel like I was losing anything,” Lincecum said. “One batter got away from me.”
Next time, Lincecum will have to be a little more airtight. But we all know he’s capable of that.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s two errors, which doubled his Cactus League total, might have been a mild concern to Giants fans. Bochy, however, remained patient.
“It’s going to take a couple of days to adjust to this infield,” Bochy said. “It’s a completely different type of infield than he’s used to playing on.”
For one thing, it’s a much better infield than the ones in Arizona, which were sun-baked and produced bad hops. But the pace of groundballs at AT&T is slower, which could have thrown Sandoval a changeup, figuratively speaking.
“The ball’s not getting on you quite as quickly,” Bochy said. He also noted that Thursday night’s stiff wind could have altered the course of a grounder or two — that’s right, it doesn’t happen with just fly balls — which would have flummoxed Sandoval further.
Sandoval also went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs. Overall, he did just fine.
– Chris Haft
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — In the eighth inning of the Giants’ 5-1 loss to Seattle on Monday, Pablo Sandoval singled through the right side of the infield. Given Sandoval’s .442 batting average, that wasn’t startling.
What WAS startling was that Sandoval hit a pitch that skipped in the dirt. It was just another example of the 22-year-old switch-hitter’s free-swinging tendencies — and of his considerable skill.
“Some guys are meant to get hits all the time,” veteran Rich Aurilia marveled.
Hitting coach Carney Lansford said, “We have people coming out early to work with guys on that swing.” Lansford was joking … we think.
Another event worth remembering was the first on-field collaboration in an organized game between right-hander Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey, who caught the final three innings. If the baseball gods smile upon the Giants, this will be the first of many times Lincecum and Posey work together. It was believed to be the first time that winners of the Golden Spikes Award (given annually to the nation’s top collegiate player) formed a battery.
“He needs to get back there,” Lincecum said. “It’s good for both of us to get a feel for each other. It’s a little different because we haven’t gotten a chance to see what kind of pitcher and what kind of catcher we are.”
Lincecum related that Posey, who didn’t call pitches in college, understandably struggled with this task.
“He’s like, ‘I don’t know what [signs] to give you, man,’ ” Lincecum related good-naturedly. “He’s just throwing down numbers and stuff. I was like, ‘OK, sounds like a good pitch.’ “
MASSILLON, Ohio — As I finish helping my daughter Samantha celebrate her 18th birthday, I admire from afar the typically solid reporting by my San Francisco Chronicle counterpart, Henry Schulman, who confirmed that the Giants have explored signing Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.
Pardon me for not summoning the same enthusiasm for the notion of acquiring Rodriguez. By bringing Rodriguez aboard, the Giants would be admitting that the personnel strategy they’ve considered since the 2008 season ended was flawed. It’s not flawed, if only because they haven’t given it a chance to work yet.
Rodriguez’s arrival would reflect a vote of no confidence in Travis Ishikawa and Pablo Sandoval, who likely would lose playing time at first and third base, respectively. So much for the youth movement.
It’s also quite possible that Rich Aurilia, who has been expected to back up at the infield corners, would be sent packing if Rodriguez joined the Giants. Rodriguez has had an outstanding career and might win election to the Hall of Fame, but at this point in his career it’s debatable whether he’s better than Aurilia.
Rodriguez is 37. He hit all of seven home runs in 398 at-bats last year with the Tigers and Yankees (Aurilia, also 37, homered 10 times in 407 at-bats). How anybody can believe that he’d suddenly regain power while playing in AT&T Park is behind me. Moreoever, since recording a .510 slugging percentage in 2004, Rodriguez has slipped in that category each year, to .444 in 2005, .437 in 2006, .420 in 2007 and .394 last season. The trend is obvious; his career is headed in one direction. At least Ishikawa and Sandoval have youth and a modicum of talent on their side.
Anywhere from six to 16 years ago, the Giants shouldn’t have hesitated to pick up Rodriguez if they had a chance. Now, they shouldn’t hesitate to run from such a deal. I’ve consistently given club management a break when considering their player moves, but this one ranks right down there with the proposed Tim Lincecum-for-Alex Rios trade in Dec. 2007. How can the Giants possibly think that Rodriguez can significantly help them?
– Chris Haft