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
It’s a good thing the Giants signed Pablo Sandoval through his arbitration years. Otherwise, his representation would do a little name dropping at the Panda’s hearing.
As in Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Albert Pujols … and Pablo Sandoval.
The Panda became the fourth player in World Series history to hit three home runs in a game.
In one way, the Panda is in a class by himself. Sandoval became the first player to hit home runs in his first three plate appearances of a World Series game.
Sandoval came up with two outs in the first inning. He fell behind 0-2 to Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Verlander’s third pitch was a letter-high fastball that Sandoval hammered over the center-field fence 410 feet away.
In the third inning, Sandoval came up after the Giants had scored a run on an Angel Pagan double off the third base bag and a single by Marco Scutaro (yet again). This time, Sandoval worked ahead on the count 2-0, drawing a visit to the mound from Tigers’ pitching coach Jeff Jones (who I loved in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, by the way). On Verlander’s next pitch, a fastball on the outer half of the plate, Sandoval went the opposite way, smacking the ball over the left-field run for a two-run shot and a 4-0 lead. The shot drew a “wow” from Verlander.
In the fifth, Sandoval came up with one out against reliever Al Alburquerque. Sandoval threw his bat after swinging and missing on the first pitch. When the bat landed near the Tigers’ dugout, it broke the handle. The Panda fetched another bat, and after a ball in the dirt, he served the ball deep over the center-field wall.
Sandoval came up once more in the game and simply lined a single to center off Jose Valverde, ending a 4-for-4 night.
To look at Sandoval’s night another way: Last year, the Cardinals’ David Freese was the World Series MVP with 8 hits, 4 runs, 1 HR and 7 RBI for the series. On Wednesday night, Sandoval had 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 HR and 4 RBI.
The last three times a player had a three-homer game, his team went on to win the World Series. Ruth’s Yankees beat the Cardinals in 4 in 1928, Jackson’s Yankees beat the Dodgers in 6 in 1977 and Pujols’ Cardinals beat the Rangers in 7 in 2011.
Here’s a look at other three-homer games in the World Series.
1926 Game 4: Yankees 10, Cardinals 5
Oct. 6, 1926, at Sportsman Park, St. Louis
Ruth went 3 for 3 with two walks. He hit a solo off in the first and a solo in the third against Flint Rhem and a two-run shot in the sixth off Hi Bell.
1928 Game 4: Yankees 7, Cardinals 3
Oct. 9, 1928 at Sporstman Park, St. Louis
Ruth went 3 for 5. He hit solo homers off Bill Sherdel in the fourth and seventh innings and another solo off Pete Alexander in the eighth.
1977 Game 6: Yankees 8, Dodgers 4
Oct. 18, 1977, at Yankee Stadium
Jackson went 3 for 3 with one walk. He hit a two-run shot off Burt Hooton in the fourth inning, a two-run homer off Elias Sosa in the fifth and a solo shot off Charlie Hough in the eighth.
2011 Game 3: Cardinals 16, Rangers 7
Oct. 22, 2011, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington
Pujols went 5 for 6 with two singles. He hit all three of his homers off relievers — a three-run shot off Alexi Ogando in the sixth inning, a two-run homer off Mike Gonzalez in the seventh and a solo shot off Darren Oliver in the ninth.
Two days before losing Cabrera for the rest of the season, the Giants got Pablo Sandoval off the disabled list.
The Giants won’t have Cabrera for the last 45 games of the regular season. They’ve already played 53 games with Sandoval on the DL and survived just fine, going 29-24 over those 53 games.
But the Giants are a stronger team in August than they were in May, when Sandoval started his 35-game stint on the DL with a broken hammate bone.
Another way to think of it: the Giants have six contant players in their lineups in May as they do now: Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Ryan Theriot and Buster Posey.
So which lineup is stronger: One that includes Melky Cabrera and Joaquin Arias, or one that includes Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence?
Now some sabermetrics would still argue for the former. But there are other factors at play.
Buster Posey is red hot now. Brandon Belt is producing more like the Giants hoped he would. Brandon Crawford is hitting better. And the Giants have Marco Scutaro as a second base alternative to Theriot.
So having Sandoval back with a better-producing lineup around him should help soften the loss of Cabrera and keep the Giants competitive.
For all the belly-aching by fans across the country and the rabid tweets from Mets president Sandy Alderson, the fans and Tony LaRussa got it right in putting four San Francisco Giants into the starting lineup of the NL All-Star team.
The Giants’ stat lines were pretty good
- CF Melky Cabrera: 2 for 3, home run, two runs, two RBI.
- C Buster Posey: 0 for 2, walk, run, five scoreless innings caught
- 3B Pablo Sandoval: 1 for 2, triple, run, 3 RBI
- P Matt Cain: 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 1 strikeout, win.
If you missed the start of the game, you missed a thrilling first inning.
After Carlos Gonzalez struck out to open the game, Cabrera singled to left and scored on Ryan Braun’s double.
After Joey Votto struck out, Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey drew walks.
Braun, Beltran and Posey all scored when Sandoval dug out a Verlander curveball and hit it off the wall just inside the right-field foul pole for a triple.
I don’t get many triples,” the Panda said. “We had some fun with that in the dugout.”
Just like that, it was 5-0 National League.
Cabrera grounded out to second in the second. Posey popped out to catcher Mike Napoli in the third and Pablo Sandoval flied to center in the fourth.
But Cabrera capped the exciting night for the Giants by hammering a two-run homer to left off the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, making it 8-0.
That home run made Cabrera the first Giant to be selected All-Star Game MVP since Bobby Bonds in 1973 in a game also played in Kansas City.
“I didn’t come to win an MVP. That’s just a surprise,” he said. “The same opportunity that Kansas City gave me last year is the same opportunity that San Francisco is giving me every day to showcase my talent. Again, I’m just very thankful for the fans that voted for me to come here.”
He can also thank Jose Bautista for the MVP trophy and the Camaro that came with it.
Bautista made a nifty sliding catch on a looper off the bat of Braun in the second inning. If Bautista doesn’t make that play, Braun finishes the night 3 for 3 with a single, double and triple … and likely with an MVP honor.
After all the Giants left the game, the All-Star Game went quiet.
Cain earned the victory, becoming the first Giants pitcher to earn an All-Star win since Vida Blue in 1981.
“For those guys to go out and score five runs in the first inning was definitely a little more relaxing for me,” he said. “But I still tried to stay focused.”
Giants All-Star MVPs
- Willie Mays, 1963 (Cleveland)
- Juan Marichal, 1965 (Minnesota)
- Willie Mays, 1968 (Houston)
- Willie McCovey, 1969 (Washington)
- Bobby Bonds, 1973 (Kansas City)
- Melky Cabrera, 2012 (Kansas City)
Giants All-Star winning pitchers
- Sal Maglie, 1951 (Detroit)
- Johnny Antonelli, 1959 (Pittsburgh)
- Stu Miller, 1961 (San Francisco)
- Juan Marichal, 1962 (Washington)
- Juan Marichal, 1964 (New York-Shea)
- Gaylord Perry, 1966 (St. Louis)
- Vida Blue, 1981 (Cleveland)
During the All-Star Selection Show Sunday, one of the panelists disagreed with the election of Pablo Sandoval over David Wright, even going so far as to scold Mets fans for not getting out the vote for their man.
But you can’t blame Mets fans. When it came to All-Star votes — especially online — San Francisco Giants fans belted a grand slam.
The final all-star vote in the NL was knocked black and orange.
Buster Posey went from having 3.3 million votes and leading Yadier Molina by a little more than 200,000 votes last week to finishing with an NL-record 7.6 million votes. Posey was the leading vote-getter in the National League. He outdistanced Molina by more than 2.5 million votes.
Last week, Melky Cabrera lost as the No. 3 vote-getter in the outfield to Ryan Braun. In the final tally, Cabrera was the top vote-getter among NL outfielders. Cabrera collected 7.5 million votes, a little less than 100,000 votes behind Posey. Cabrera finished more than 1 million votes ahead of No. 2 outfielder Carlos Beltran.
Sandoval went from trailing Wright by more than 400,000 votes to beating Wright by more than 1.6 million votes. Sandoval collected 5.7 million votes.
Oh, and it didn’t stop there. Two other Giants — 1B Brandon Belt and SS Brandon Crawford — finished second in voting at their respective positions. Belt finished more than 3 million votes behind the Reds’ Joey Votto. However, Crawford missed being voted the starting NL shortstop by a little more than 306,000 votes.
Outfielder Angel Pagan finished fifth among outfielders (4.5 million). Aubrey Huff was 14th (1.9 million). Freddy Sanchez, who has not played a big-league game in more than a year, finished fourth among second baseman (2.289 million votes).
It’s the first time since 2001 that the Giants have had three players voted All-Star starters (Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia). Coincidentally, Bonds, Kent and Aurilia are expected at AT&T Park Sunday as the Giants commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the 2002 NL championship squad.
Congrats to Buster, the Melkman and the Panda, and also to Matt Cain, who was named to the All-Star team.
Here is the NL All-Star team:
C – Buster Posey, Giants; 1B – Joey Votto, Reds; 2B – Dan Uggla, Braves; SS – Rafael Furcal, Cardinals; 3B – Pablo Sandoval, Giants; OF – Matt Kemp, Dodgers; OF – Carlos Beltran, Cardinals; OF – Melky Cabrera, Giants.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Craig Kimbrel, Braves; Aroldis Chapman, Reds; Cole Hamels, Phillies; Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies; Wade Miley, Diamondbacks; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals; R.A. Dickey, Mets; Matt Cain, Giants; Lance Lynn, Cardinals; Joel Hanrahan, Pirates; Huston Street, Padres
1B Bryan Lahair, Cubs; 2B Jose Altuve, Astros; SS Starlin Castro, Cubs; SS Ian Desmond, Nationals; 3B David Wright, Mets; C Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; C Yadier Molina, Cardinals; OF Jay Bruce, Reds; OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; OF Ryan Braun, Brewers; OF Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins; OF Andrew McCutchen.