Results tagged ‘ Pablo Sandoval ’

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.

Sandoval’s elbow causes concern; more from Sabean

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

Velez, not Frandsen, sent down; Renteria returns; Tim’s dry wit

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

 

Leftovers from Wednesday, May 13: Zito, Pablo, Lewis

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.

 

Yogi, meet Pablo

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

Sandoval, Uribe to man infield corners? Possibly

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

Groin injury sidelines Sandoval

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

More position-player shuffling in store

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

Infield high rule

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.

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