April showers bring May flowers. What do May flowers bring?
Well, for the San Francisco Giants, significant injuries. At least that’s been true over the past few seasons.
Mark DeRosa, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong, Angel Pagan. All suffered significant injuries that cost them weeks of playing time in May.
Wednesday’s injury may have been the most frustrating.
In the top of the ninth, after he had just escaped a bases-loaded jam with the help of a double play ball, Santiago Casilla came to the plate for the first time since 2012.
Manager Bruce Bochy said afterwards that he gave Casilla instructions not to swing. But Casilla went up there hacking, working the count full before hitting a chopper up the middle. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki charged the ball and threw to first. Casilla raced down the baseline with his hair on fire, as if they play were in Game 7 of the World Series.
It was a game in May, and the Giants were leading 5-1. Just before he reached the bag, Casilla pulled up, then fell over the bag and began writhing in pain. Casilla suffered a hamstring injury so bad that he could not put wait on the leg and had to be helped off the field by two trainers.
And this came after starter Matt Cain left the game early when he felt his hamstring tighten up.
Casilla is definitely going on the DL. For how long, we won’t know until an MRI is performed Thursday. But it didn’t look good. By the looks of things, if the Giants get Casilla back before the All-Star break, they would be lucky.
But it seems to follow a disturbing trend of key injuries suffered by Giants in the month of May.
Here’s a look back at others since 2010:
Mark DeRosa: Prior to the 2010 season, Mark DeRosa signed a two-year, $12 million deal to be a veteran presence in the lineup. But in May of 2010, DeRosa went on the DL with a wrist injury that ended his 2010 season after playing 26 games in 2010. He came back to play 47 games in 2011, mostly as a reserve. He also started a DL stint in May 2011.
Edgar Renteria: Renteria went on the DL twice in May 2010, the first on May 7 with a strained groin. He returned May 22, played three games then went back on the DL with a strained hamstring for about a month. He would return, suffer other injuries, but return in the postseason to deliver one of the biggest hits in Giants history in Game 5 of the World Series.
Buster Posey: The biggest May injury was Posey’s season-injury ankle injury on May 26 when he got plowed by Scott Cousins.
Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt went on the DL May 2 with a sprained knee sustained when his 4-year-old son lept into his arms after Affeldt returned home after a game. Now, granted, the injury occurred in late April, but Affeldt went on the DL in May. Affeldt missed the minimum, so it wasn’t major injury, but worth mentioning.
Pablo Sandoval: Almost a year after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand, Sandoval breaks the hamate bone in his left hand, leaving a game early against the Marlins on May 2. He would be out until June 9.
Santiago Casilla: This isn’t the first time Casilla visited the DL in May. Last season, he went on DL on May 21 with a cyst in his right knee and did not return from the DL until July 14.
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogelsong was off to a bad start in 2013. But he looked to be turning things around with his best start of the season, throwing five shutout innings against the Nationals. Then he broke his hand swinging at a pitch at the plate. He would be out until Aug. 9.
Angel Pagan: Pagan supplied perhaps the most exciting play of the 2013 season for the Giants when he won a game against the Rockies with a 10th-inning, inside-the-park home run. But Pagan hurt his hamstring on the play on May 25. They waited until June 7 to put him on the DL. He tried to return later in June, but aggravated the injury on June 20 playing for Class San Jose. He would later have surgery and be out until Aug. 30.
Brandon Belt: Belt went on the DL after suffering a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch from the Dodgers’ Paul Maholm on May 9. He’s not expected back until late June, at the earliest.
Now, that was a tough way for a six-game winning streak to end.
A two-out triple and error allowed Starling Marte to race around the bases and score the winning run in a 2-1 win for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
To make matters worse, Marte was called out at the plate, but the call was reversed on replay — the first time that a game has been decided by a review reversal.
You had to figure it would happen to Giants.
There was a lot of conjecture and debate about the final play on talk radio and Twitter, as Giants fans were looking for someone to pin the blame on.
So let’s look at the suspects:
HUNTER PENCE: Some fans said that Pence could have played the ball better off the wall in right. The ball bounced away from Pence after hitting the wall, allowing Marte to take third.
I believe Pence misjudged the carry on this ball. When it came off Marte’s bat, I thought that Pence would catch the ball on the warning track. I think Pence thought the same thing, which put him in a bad spot to play the ball off the wall.
So could he have played the ball better? Yes. But really it would have meant the difference between Marte at second or Marte at third. And with two out, a base hit is the most likely way Marte would have scored with two out. And a hit to the outfield scores Marte from second or third.
TIM HUDSON: Other fans said that Hudson should have been in a better position to back up the throw to third.
Again, OK, fine. But as a veteran pitcher, I don’t really think that Hudson thought there would be or should have been a throw into third. Is that an excuse? Not really. On a play like that, there’s no other place a pitcher should be than backing up a throw into third on a ball hit to right. But I’m not about to pin this one on Hudson, given the way he pitched when the Giants needed him to give the bullpen some much needed rest.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Given his struggles at the plate, fans are just looking for a reason to make The Panda into The Goat. But not on this play. Fans said Sandoval should have done all he could to block the ball. But the throw was a bad one, forcing Sandoval to lunge for the ball. He actually did a great job to get up quickly, get to the ball and make a spot-on throw home. Sandoval was not at fault.
BUSTER POSEY: This one drove me the most nuts. Fans were howling that Posey should have blocked Marte’s path to the plate. Some were blaming the new rule on blocking the plate, in which case they were wrong TWICE. For one, the new rule does not prevent a catcher from blocking the plate once he has the ball, and on this play, Posey had the ball early enough to block the plate within the rules. Secondly, regardless of the rule and what it allows, the Giants have instructed Posey for more than two years to avoid contact at the plate. Even if it means allowing a run — even the winning run — to score, they would much rather have a healthy Posey. And that’s the right call. Other fans thought Posey should have made a better tag, placing the tag on the hand or arm and not on the body. Well, looking at the replay, Posey did attempt to tag Marte on his left hand or arm, but Marte alerted pulled that hand back to his body to avoid the tag, leaving Posey to tag his chest. That allowed Marte to slip his right hand onto the plate.
If there was a way to fault Posey, it was his positioning at the plate. When Posey took the throw, he was standing right over home plate. When Marte came in with his slide, Posey backed away from him to avoid contact, applying the tag in a matador-like style. Again, this is likely a by-product of the Giants telling him to avoid contact. But a better way of that to happen is for Posey to position himself in fair territory and up the line to third to shorten the length of the thrown from Sandoval. This would have given Marte a lane to the plate, as the rule stipulates, but would have allowed Posey to make the tag earlier. The only question here is whether Posey could have done that and still retained a line of sight from Sandoval.
THE UMPIRES: Other fans were screaming that they hate replay. But I can assure you, that if the replay had allowed the Giants to win, they would love it. Replay is here to make sure calls are correct. As Jon Miller said in the post-game, in the entire history of the game, that play would have been called out because the throw beat Marte to the plate. It wouldn’t have mattered where the tag was, unless Marte made a more obvious attempt to avoid the tag. But now, with replay, it matters where the tag is. And that’s the way it should be.
The Giants were saying afterward they thought the replay was inconclusive and should not have been overturned. That’s more their hearts talking. The Giants had a play reviewed earlier this season ruled inconclusive that the Giants felt clearly showed that the call on the field should have been overturned. But that was in the first couple of weeks of the season, when the replay ump was far more reluctant to overturn calls on the field. But now they are willing to make the closer calls on replay. And in this case, the replay showed he was safe.
EHIRE ADRIANZA: If you were looking for the real culprit, you should look no further than Adrianza. This was another case of situational baseball, much like the plays earlier this season by Sandoval when he charged a slow roller and made an ill-advised and errant throw to first, allowing a run to score. The best play here would have been to eat the ball. The situation would have been different had their been one out or no outs. A runner at third with less than two outs is a much different situation. It’s a risk vs. reward situation, and the reward goes up with less than two outs. But with two outs, you don’t need to be a hero. You need to trust your pitcher to get that third out. There really wasn’t a play on Marte at third, and the risk of something bad happening outweighed the reward.
- WP: Sergio Romo (1-0)
- HR: Pablo Sandoval (2), Brandon Crawford (1)
Sunday was almost a GREAT day for Splash Hits.
Nah, come to think of it, it was a great day for Splash Hits.
Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the 10th inning by hitting his first Splash Hit, shooting a pitch off Rex Brothers (a left-hander no less) into McCovey Cove right down the right-field line to lift the Giants over the Rockies 5-4.
It was the first Splash Hit since Pablo Sandoval put one in the water on May 12, 2013.
Sandoval almost made it two Splash Hits in the same game in the sixth inning.
Sandoval’s shot to over the No. 3 archway was well on its way to the Bay, but the ball actually hit one of the flag poles that rise high above the Willie Mays Wall in right and bounced back.
If Sandoval had reached the water, it would have been a first — it would have been the first time two different Giants hit Splash Hits in the same game.
Barry Bonds twice hit a pair of Splash Hits in the same game — on May 10, 2000 vs. the Cardinals (Nos. 2 and 3 Splash Hits overall); and May 18, 2002 vs. the Marlins (Nos. 19 and 20).
Crawford’s home run was the 64th Splash Hit at AT&T/SBC/Pacific Bell Park. He became the 17th different player to record at Splash Hit. (Remember: Splash Hits are home runs on the fly into the bay hit by Giants hitters).
It was also the second walk-off Splash Hit. Barry Bonds had the other on Aug. 19, 2003.
So Barry Bonds hit 35 career Splash Hits.
Barry Bonds spent time this spring working with Brandon Crawford.
Brandon Crawford hits his first Splash Hit.
Here’s the list of Splash Hitters
- Barry Bonds 35
- Pablo Sandoval 7
- Brandon Belt 3
- Felipe Crespo 2
- Ryan Klesko 2
- Michael Tucker 2
- Andres Torres 2
- Aubrey Huff 2
- JT Snow 1
- Jose Cruz Jr 1
- AJ Pierzynski 1
- Randy Winn 1
- Fred Lewis 1
- John Bowker 1
- Nate Schierholtz 1
- Carlos Beltran 1
- Brandon Crawford 1
After an off day, Tim Lincecum faces Josh Beckett as the Giants and Dodgers open a three-game series at AT&T Park at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday.
The San Francisco Giants took another injury hit on Tuesday when they placed third baseman Pablo Sandoval on the disabled list.
There was a little bit of confusion over the nature of the injury. Giants CEO Larry Baer said on Monday it was a hairline fracture in his foot. The Giants corrected that on Tuesday, saying that the MRI revealed a previous hairline fractured that had healed. The team says the nature of the injury is a strained tendon in his foot.
Sandoval hurt his foot back in late May and aggravated it on Friday. The Giants feel that two weeks off is the only way for Sandoval to heal and expect him back with the team on June 24 when his 15 days are up.
Because of the shortest possible DL stint, the Giants are going to fill Sandoval’s vacancy with a combination of Joaquin Arias taking over the starting role at third base and Tony Abreu and Nick Noonan as backups. Noonan was recalled from Triple-A Fresno after only playing one game for the Grizzlies after his recent demotion.
“With (Arias) and Noonan and Abreu, we can ham-and-egg this until we get Pablo back,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
When asked to comment, Sandoval said “Mmmmm, jamon y huevos.”
OK, OK, we like to have fun with the Sandoval’s weight, but the Giants say there is no way of telling if the Panda’s girth had anything to do with the injury.
But the Giants did want Sandoval to work on his conditioning during his DL stint. Why? Well, obviously Sandoval’s fitness has been a problem since spring training. Unlike previous offseasons, Sandoval didn’t spend time last winter trying to shed pounds.
Plus, he’s put on weight during his previous stints on the DL. He added pounds when he broke his hamate bone in one hand in 2011, when broke his OTHER hamate bone in 2012, when he pulled his hamstring in 2012.
In the meantime, the Giants will turn to Arias. Arias did a nice job filling in for Sandoval last season, which earned him a spot on the team all the way through the postseason.
He has not done much this season, hitting .220. But he also has been limited to 10 starts. He got off to a very cold start, but is hitting .276 over the past four weeks.
There has been some chatter about the Giants bringing up another third baseman to replace Sandoval’s bat, but there really aren’t any plausible options.
I saw someone mention Adam Duvall, who is playing third base at Double-A Richmond. But he’s only played 27 games above Class A, and those all came this year as Duvall missed time this season with an injury.
It was a busy weekend for MoreSplashHits. Hey, it was Mother’s Day weekend, so we weren’t blogging much.
But we were stilling watching the Giants, and Sunday’s game provided us with another Splash Hits.
It was Sandoval’s first Splash Hit since Aug. 31, 2011 and the seventh of his career. That ranks him second all-time behind …. some guy named …. Bonds, whoever that is.
Brandon Belt had delivered the last three Splash Hits. Belt also homered Sunday, but he hit his the other way to left field. Here’s a list of Splash Hit leaders.
- Barry Bonds 35
- Pablo Sandoval 7
- Brandon Belt 3
Sunday’s home runs helped cap a relaxing weekend for Giants fans. Prior to Friday, the Giants had only won two games without the need of a save or walk-off win.
None of the three wins against the Braves over the weekend required a save or walk-off win, with the Giants winning 8-2, 10-1 and 5-1. Before Friday, the Giants’ run differential was 0. Now, it’s +19.
The Giants have hit just 18 home runs this season, second fewest among NL teams (and with Giancarlo Stanton going to be sidelined for a while, the Marlins don’t figure to add many to their total of 12).
But don’t tell the Arizona Diamondbacks about the Giants’ power shortage. Because against Arizona, it seems whenever the Giants need a big blast they’ve got one.
For the fourth time in five games this season against the Diamondbacks, the Giants have hit a home run in the eighth or ninth innings to erase a deficit.
- On April 22, Buster Posey hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game 4-4. The Giants would win the next inning 5-4.
- On April 23 vs. Arizona, Brandon Belt hits a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 4-4. Arizona would wind up winning in the 11th, 6-4
- On April 24 vs. Arizona, Brandon Crawford hits a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 2-2. Arizona would win the game 3-2 in the 10th.
So when Josh Wilson hit a solo home run, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth of Tuesday, the stage was set for some more late-inning thunder from the Giants.
And thankfully, they got some help from Arizona manager Kirk Gibson.
Gibson actually pulled a Bochy.
After Wilson’s home run off Santiago Casilla in the eighth gave Arizona the lead, Gibson opted to let pitcher Trevor Cahill hit for himself with one out in the eighth.
Despite holding a narrow 1-0 lead, the move appeared to be a sound one as Cahill was shutting out the Giants on three hits and he had only thrown 82 pitches through eight innings.
Angel Pagan led off the ninth and worked the count full on Cahill before shooting a single into right field. That led Gibson to come get Cahill and bring in J.J. Putz.
“I didn’t want him to take the loss,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. “I had confidence in my closer and it didn’t work out.”
Thanks a lot, Gibby.
Pagan stole second, Marco Scutaro struck out, then Pablo Sandoval hammered a Putz pitch deep over the wall in right center for a 2-1 Giants led.
Sergio Romo would come in and set the Diamondbacks down in order in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
It game the Giants their 15th win in April. If the Giants win 15 games every month, they’ll win 90 games for the season. So the blast ended April on a positive note. It gives the Giants the chance to salvage the road trip with a 3-3 mark with a win Wednesday. And it means they didn’t completely squander seven shutout innings from Madison Bumgarner, who lowered his ERA 1.55.
I’ve been watching baseball games for more than 30 years. But I ran across something I never realized before. So I thought I’d share with you.
So I was watching a San Francisco Giants game recently when someone asked me “What is up with all that gunk on Pablo Sandoval’s helmet?”
My response: “Aw, it’s just something baseball guys do.”
Friend: “Is there any purpose to it?”
Me: “Is there any purpose to baseball players spitting every 30 seconds?”
Friend: “Well, it’s disgusting. They should make a rule against it.”
I shrugged the suggestion off. I mean, Pablo’s not the first nor the only player to encase his batting helmet in gunk.
I can remember Craig Biggio doing it in the 1990s and early 2000s.
And Vladimir Guerrero was another culprit.
And, of course, Manny Ramirez.
It just seemed like an age-old tradition.
But last week while watching game, one of the TV commentators talked about the gunk on the helmets, and gave a perfectly logical explanation that never dawned on me before.
It’s pine tar, that sticky substance that is normally on a rag on the on-deck circle for batters to apply to the handle of their bat for a better grip.
Well, some hitters will also rub that pine tar rag on their helmets as they head to the plate. Why? Well, if you’re in the middle of a particularly long at-bat and you want a little more stick to your grip, you don’t have to walk back to the on deck circle to grab the pine tar rag — and the umps probably wouldn’t let you — you just have to adjust your helmet and get a little more pine tar.
But some players have taken this practice to the new level. Take a look at this image of the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp.
I was watching Kemp last week, and I saw that stain on his shoulder. I couldn’t remember Kemp making a diving play in the outfielder or sliding on the basepaths to get that stain. And even if he had, how could the only stain be on his shoulder.
Then I realized that Kemp, instead of rubbing his batting helmet in pine tar, he rubs the rag on his shoulder for his extra supply when he is at the plate.
Of course, there is an inherent danger to carrying all this pine tar on your body. What if you helmet flies off your head as you’re racing down to first base. The pitcher could pick the helmet up for the hitter and hand it back to him. Looks like a nice gesture until you realize that the pitcher has some sticky pine tar on his pitching hand and is now able to snap off some wicked sliders or curveballs.
Something to think about.
And, of course, whenever you play around with pine tar, it’s always a good idea to be careful.
You don’t want to end up like this guy.
Guillermo Quiroz may have locked down the final spot on the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster with one swing Saturday.
Quiroz hammered a three-run home run off Bartolo Colon in the seventh inning, accounting for all of the Giants’ run in a 4-3 loss to the A’s in the preseason finale.
Or the decision could have been made before Quiroz came to the plate on Saturday.
The Giants made their final roster moves before Monday’s season opener by purchasing the contract of Quiroz and adding him to the 40-man roster. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, in the mix as a fifth outfielder, was sent to Minor League camp. He’ll likely open the season in Triple-A Fresno.
With Quiroz on the roster, the Giants could use Hector Sanchez as a pinch-hitter. Sanchez is a switch hitter, which gives the Giants more options late in a game.
“He has a good, adjustable bat from both sides of the plate,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said of Sanchez.
Sanchez battled a sore shoulder this spring. But he caught back-to-back games this weekend in minor league camp in Arizona, and Evans said he looks pretty good.
Still, the very fact that Sanchez was left in Arizona while the rest of the Giants came north shows that the Giants had — and may still have — concerns about Sanchez’s healthy. It seems evident that when Buster Posey gets a day off in the season’s early going, it will be Quiroz — not Sanchez — behind the plate. This will give Sanchez extra time to build strength in the shoulder so it doesn’t act up again.
The 31-year-old Quiroz, who batted .282 this spring, has played in 103 big-league games over eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.
Not adding Gillespie means the Giants will open the season with four pure outfielders. But the ability of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to play all three outfield positions gives the Giants some flexibility. And the fact that all four outfielders are solid defenders, there won’t be any need to late-inning defensive replacements. Also, Brandon Belt remains an option in the outfield, as well as Joaquin Arias.
The final roster decision focused on Pablo Sandoval, who left Friday’s game with the A’s early after feeling some discomfort in his troublesome elbow.
Sandoval told manager Bruce Bochy that he was better Saturday and wanted to play. The Giants held him out as a precaution. Sandoval played catch before Saturday’s game, and will work out again Sunday before the team flies to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, just to make sure everything’s working right.
Here is the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster for 2013
Projected Monday lineup:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Marco Scutaro
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Buster Posey
- RF Hunter Pence
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Andres Torres
- SS Brandon Crawford
- RHP Matt Cain
Other starting pitchers: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Tim Lincecum, LH Barry Zito, RH Ryan Vogelsong.
Bullpen: RH Sergio Romo, LH Jeremy Affeldt, LH Javier Lopez, LH Jose Mijares, RH Santiago Casilla, RH George Kontos, RH Chad Gaudin
Bench: C Hector Sanchez, C Guillermo Quiroz, IF Nick Noonan, IF Joaquin Arias, OF Gregor Blanco
A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were in the Giants Store at AT&T Park, and she asks me “What’s up with the panda hat.”
I explained how one of the Giants’ most popular players was nicknamed Kung Fu Panda. She responded: “Oh, then I need to get one of these.”
And thus began a whole line of novelty Giants memorabilia items dedicated to Giants players: Wilson beards, Lincecum wigs (now collector’s items), Baby Giraffes, White Sharks, Melkmen, and on and on.
Pablo Sandoval was the MVP of the 2012 World Series. And that was an easy call.
The Panda hit .500 (8 for 16) with three home runs, four RBI, a double and only two strikeouts. And, of course, he had the three-homer game.
But there were a lot of MVPs in the World Series for the Giants. Here are others:
RHP Tim Lincecum 4.2 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, one walk, eight strikeouts
RHP Sergio Romo 3 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, five strikeouts, three saves
LHP Madison Bumgarner 7 IP, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts, 1 win.
RHP Ryan Vogelsong, 5.2 IP, 5 hits, 0 run, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts, 1 win
OF Gregor Blanco, 4-15 (.267), 3B, RBI, three great catches, great relay throw to Marco Scutaro to get Prince Fielder at the plate
C Buster Posey, 4-15 (.267), HR, 3 RBI, caught outstanding series, two shutouts.
LHP Barry Zito, 5.2 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 win, 1-2, RBI
LHP Jeremy Affeldt, 2 IP, 0 hit, 0 run, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
SS Brandon Crawford, 3-12 (.250), RBI, stolen base, outstanding defensive shortstop