If the All-Star voting ending today, the San Francisco Giants would have TWO players in the starting lineup.
Melky Cabrera jumped past reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun for third place in the outfield in NL All-Star voting released Tuesday.
Cabrera has 2,144,107 votes to move a little more than 25,000 votes ahead of Braun. Matt Kemp leads among NL outfielders with 3.32 million votes, followed by Carlos Beltran at 2.65 million.
Buster Posey continues to lead among catchers with 2,445,005 votes. He leads Yadier Molina of the Cardinals by 153,438 votes. Posey is trying to become the first San Francisco Giant to be voted the starting NL catcher in an All-Star Game since Ed Bailey in 1963.
The Giants haven’t had two players voted as All-Star starters since 2004, when Barry Bonds (OF) and Jeff Kent (2B) earned the honors.
The last time the Giants had three All-Star starters (via voting) was in 2001 when Bonds, Kent and SS Rich Aurilia won the balloting.
We mentioned that because Pablo Sandoval has moved up to No. 2 among third basemen. Sandoval trails the Mets’ David Wright by about 355,000 votes.
Other Giants among top vote-getters at their positions include 1B Brandon Belt (fourth), SS Brandon Crawford (fifth) and OF Angel Pagan (ninth).
The bad news for Giants All-Star hopefuls is that in-stadium voting ends on Friday, and the Giants are currently halfway through a nine-game road trip. However, Friday’s game is a home-away-from-home game at Oakland.
After that, voting can be done exclusively online through June 28. So let’s hope some wired Giants fans can stuff the ballots.
To vote for your Giants All-Stars, click here.
You know, sometimes Bruce Bochy is better off just keeping his mouth shut.
Earlier this week, in some kind of feeble attempt to use the media to motivate Pablo Sandoval into keeping himself in better shape, the Giants skipper intimated that the Pablo’s job at third base was not secure if Sandoval could not keep himself in good enough shape to play the position effectively.
Then, just hours — no, not even hours, MINUTES — after the Giants suffered their first shutout loss of the season, and not coincidently on the same night Sandoval belted two home runs for the Fresno Grizzlies, a phone call was made to the San Joaquin Valley.
On Friday night, after a 5-0 loss to the Rangers in which the Giants only advanced one runner to second base (and that was only for one second when Barry Zito was caught overrunning the bag), the Giants activated Sandoval from the disabled list and optioned Brett Pill to Triple-A.
So let’s recap.
When the Giants sent Sandoval on a minor-league assignment a little more than a week ago, the target return date at AT&T for the Panda was Friday’s series opener with the Rangers.
Then on Monday, Bochy said the Panda was a little to spongy around the middle and he would be activated by Tuesday’s opener with the Astros.
In reality, the delay in Sandoval’s return had less to do with his girth and more to do with the fact that the Rangers had planned to start two lefties in the series at AT&T — Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.
Sandoval’s progress from the left side of the plate is slightly ahead of the right side because the surgery he had in early May was on his left hand, the bottom hand on the bat when he bats right. He did bat right-handed in a game Thursday at Fresno, going 0 for 5. His two homers Friday came from the left side.
But when Holland landed on the DL this week and was replaced by righty Alexis Ogando for Sunday’s start — not to mention Friday’s shutout loss and the Melky Cabrera’s tender hamstring — it was time to speed up the return of Panda Mode.
The Giants’ goal when Sandoval went on the DL was to simply tread water until he got back. They did better than that, going a major league-best 21-11 since May 5.
Now they are looking for Sandoval to provide an offensive spark to a team that has not scored more than four runs in their last nine home games.
So here’s Saturday’s projected lineup
- LF Gregor Blanco
- 2B Ryan Theriot
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Buster Posey
- CF Angel Pagan
- 1B Brandon Belt
- RF Nate Schierholtz
- SS Brandon Crawford
- P Ryan Vogelsong
Giants skipper Bruce Bochy caused a stir Monday with his comments regarding Pablo Sandoval and his future at third base.
Bochy said the Giants have not been happy with The Panda’s conditioning since heading on the disabled list in early May.
Bochy went so far to say Sandoval’s playing time at third base could be limited if the Panda were not in good shape.
Bochy had a less-than-cordial discussion with Sandoval on Saturday.
“He’s been told we have enough first basemen,” Bochy said. “That said, hopefully we’re not forced to make a change. That’s in Pablo’s hands.”
The Giants have been very happy with the defense of Joaquin Arias since being moved to third base for the first time in his career during Sandoval’s DL stint. Arias made several nice plays over the weekend that helped the Giants beat the Cubs in close games.
“Being able to make the plays Joaquin has been making, that’s so vital. You look at how important the plays were in (Sunday’s) ball game. That’s part of when (Sandoval) comes back up here. It’s not just the hitting. It’s how he’s playing third base, which is what he’s doing today.”
Defense is vital in low-scoring, tight games. But you know else helps? Runs.
The Giant won three straight over the Cubs, but averaged fewer than three runs in each of those wins.
Since Sandoval went on the DL on May 2, the Giants have hit one home run at AT&T Park … ONE … and that was by Gregor Blanco.
Sandoval ranks second on the Giants in home runs with five, one behind Buster Posey … and Sandoval hasn’t played in almost five weeks.
The Giants have long tried to find ways to keep Sandoval focused and motivated.
They sent him to the bench when his weight became a problem in 2010. But in 2010, as his weight went up, his offensive production went down.
During that offseaosn they threatened Sandoval with a trip to the minors if he didn’t get himself in shape. Sandoval responded by working out in the offseason and improving his conditioning.
Then, he had a solid 2011 season.
When his weight crept up late in 2011 and stayed that way into 2012, the Giants said they weren’t concerned.
But now they’re concerned, and Bochy is trying to get Sandoval back on track. And having just given him a three-year contract for $17 million, the only chip the Giants have to play is playing time.
But it’s a completely empty threat.
There’s no way the Giants can hope to keep things going by winning games 2-1 or 2-0. There’s no way they can keep rolling out an infield filled with .230 hitters.
They need some offense, even if that means putting the Panda’s big butt in the lineup at third base.
Sandoval will play his third game with Class-A San Jose on Monday, getting his first start at third base. If all goes well, Sandoval would join Triple-A’s Fresno on Tuesday.
While early hopes has Sandoval being ready to return for Friday’s opener against the Rangers, being back for the July 12 series opener at home against the Astros seems more likely.
Sandoval is still sore batting from the right side. So keeping Sandoval in Fresno a couple more days makes sense.
Plus, there are fewer good places to eat in Fresno than San Francisco.
Sometimes, I feel, as a Giants fan, like a child being coddled by Bruce Bochy.
The Giants manager last night said he was very concerned about Pablo Sandoval, but was hopeful for better news Thursday.
What news was he hoping for? That the Yankees would release Alex Rodriguez?
The Giants announced Thursday that Sandoval would be out 4-to-6 weeks after suffering a broken hamate bone in his left hand.
Almost exacly one year ago, Sandoval suffered the exact injury on his right hand. He missed 41 games (about six weeks), in which the Giants went 25-16. They’d be extremely lucky to expect a repeat of that feat, although a portion of those games were also played without Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez.
Giants trainer Dave Groeschner added that there is hope that Sandoval can be back sooner that last year because this injury is not to his throwing hand. Also, Sandoval hits more from the left, and this injury would be to his top hand when batting left.
Sandoval said he initially hurt his hand Sunday. But it appears he notified the team on Tuesday and got X-rays, which were inconclusive. He would try to play through the injury.
Sandoval hit home runs on Sunday and Tuesday.
But the hopes of playing through the injury ended Wednesday when the pain became unbearable after grounding out in the sixth.
The expression on Bochy’s face showed clear concern. Yet he said afterward, he was hoping for good news.
And then the Giants called Connor Gillaspie in Fresno at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday night. He caught a 7 a.m. flight to San Francisco Thursday and will get the start against the Marlins. Gillaspie was hitting .316 at Fresno this season.
On Thursday, Bochy said he hopes Gillaspie “takes the job and runs with it.” He also added that Joaquin Arias, Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burriss could see time at third base.
That’s a lot of hoping.
The timing is particularly frustrating, given that the Tigers released veteran 3B Brandon Inge last Thursday. On Monday, he signed with the A’s.
Also Thursday, Bochy said Aubrey Huff will be activated from the disabled list when eligible on Monday.
For what it’s worth, Huff has played 360 big-league games at third base, although he hasn’t played any since playing 33 games there for the Orioles in 2008.
The next question the becomes: Who gets sent back to Fresno when Huff is activated?
Geez, I hate it when the Marlins come to town.
Last season, when the Fish were in town, the Giants lost Buster Posey to a season-ending injury.
On Wednesday, they lost Pablo Sandoval, for a little while at least, maybe longer.
Sandoval left Wednesday game after grounding out in the sixth inning and was said to be in “quite a bit of pain” in his left hand.
Manager Bruce Bochy didn’t say when Sandoval hurt himself. But after looking at Sandoval’s at-bats Wednesday (MLB.TV is cool), the Panda wasn’t showing any signs of discomfort until he swung at a low 89 mph pitch from Carlos Zambrano on a 1-0 count leading off the sixth.
Sandoval appeared to hit the ball of the end of his bat and rolled a grounder to second. Sandoval immediately dropped his head and jogged to first, grimacing as he reached the bag.
A couple of media reports said that Sandoval broke his hamate bone in his right hand swinging a bat on April 29 of last season. But as I recall, the Giants said back then that they didn’t know how or when the injury occurred, saying to could have happened on a slide into the bag.
That injury sidelined Sandoval for six weeks, after requiring surgery.
In this case, Sandoval’s left hand was the top hand on the bat as he batted left handed, so hitting a 89 mph pitch down on the end of the bat would hurt the top hand.
Bochy said he was concerned for Sandoval, who was seen leaving the park with a brace on his left hand.
“Oh, quite a bit, to be honest,” Bochy said of his concern for the Panda. “For him to come out of the game, his hand is pretty sore. There’s a lot of concern there. We know what this guy means to our club and our offense. You hope for the best, that’s all you can do. … We’re hoping we get some good news with this.”
Nothing further will be known until Thursday. If there’s a positive note, it came from CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly, who reported that Sandoval was scene leaving the clubhouse in the direction away from the stadium’s X-ray machine.
If a DL stint is needed, left-handed hitting Conor Gillaspie would be the apparent replacement. Gillaspie is hitting .362 with three home runs and 13 RBI for Triple-A Fresno.
Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound against Anibal Sanchez at 12:45 p.m. Thursday as the Giants try to salvage the final game of the three-game series. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad vibes on this but …. last year on the day after Posey was injured (in an extra inning game, mind), the Giants played a day game against the Marlins and Anibal Sanchez threw a complete game shutout for a 1-0 victory to complete a three-game sweep. Who was the opposing pitcher for the Giants that day? Ryan Vogelsong.
It used to be that every player showed up to spring training out of shape. Then they’d spend six weeks whipping themselves into playing shape.
But those days are long gone. Most players these days spend the offseason sticking to a steady offseason workout regimen. Spring training is about refining their hitting, fielding and pitching skills.
Still, several Giants reported to camp this season and discussed (whether they wanted to or not) about their weight. In some cases, their weight kept them from reporting to camp. Here’s where how some Giants are doing in the battle against the bulge.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Yes, Sandoval’s weight is making news. And he may be getting tired talking about it. But what do you expect when your nickname is “Kung Fu Panda?” Sandoval broke in with the Giants as a lovable round rookie in 2008 and made a big splash in 2009, earning the nickname from Barry Zito (Zito’s greatest contribution as a Giant). But the pounds kept coming in 2010 and production dropped off, eventually earning Sandoval a spot on the bench as the Giants made their postseason run. Sandoval rededicated himself that offseason, losing 38 pounds. The slimmer Panda was the most productive Giants with the bat in 2011, even after missing six weeks with a broken bone in his hand. No one seemed to care as he added 10-20 pounds by season’s end. Sandoval will step on the scales Thursday, but doesn’t seem to care about the number. He spent the winter again working out in Arizona. Manager Bruce Bochy raised concerns about Sandoval’s weight a couple weeks ago, not coincidentally right about the time Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract. But the skipper seemed less concerned when Sandoval arrived in cap. As long as The Panda hits and fields third base, it doesn’t really matter what his weight is.
AUBREY HUFF: Huff arrived at camp looking lean after spending the winter working out in Arizona and resuming the Pilates workouts that he did prior to the 2010 season when he hit .290 and belted 26 home runs. The Giants suggested that Huff was out of shape when he arrived at camp last spring, leading to a 2011 season in which he hit .246 and 12 homers. Huff worked himself into shape this winter because the Giants are considering playing him in left field, preferring to let Brandon Belt focus on first base. Last season, Huff looked lost in the offseason. It’s something to watch this spring.
ANGEL VILLALONA: One Giant prospect not in camp is Angel Villalona. Villalona hasn’t played baseball in two years after dealing with legal issues in the Dominican Republic. He has not been issued a visa to enter the U.S. because his visa requires him to be an “elite athlete.” Apparently, Villalona’s weight and other health issues have prevented him from earning that distinction. The Giants hope the delay is only temporary. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work out at the Giants’ Dominican facility.
BRIAN WILSON: The Giants closer said he lost 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason as he concentrated on more cardio exercising than weightlifting. Wilson said that his devotion to weightlifting last offseason may have contributed to his elbow problems that shortened his 2011. But more than that, he said it had more to do with the Giants deep postseason run of 2010 and the shortened offseason.
TIM LINCECUM: You wouldn’t generally think of The Freak and weight issues. The right-hander ended the 2010 season at 160 pounds. Thinking he needed to add bulk to aid his durability, he added 15 pounds that offseason. Normally, the pounds start to come off during the season. But last season, his weight jumped to 187, fueled by a steady diet of In-N-Out’s Double-Doubles. His weight eventually went to 196 pounds by last October. “I wore a lot of sweats that month.” Sparked by teasing from his father, Lincecum spent much of this offseason swimming and avoiding junk food. Lincecum reported to camp at 175 pounds. “I’m not crushing vegtables by any means, but I am eating a lot better.”
Tuesday’s game in Arizona will mark the return of Pablo Sandoval to the lineup. Sandoval has been out of the lineup since late April when he suffered a broken bone in his hand.
After rededicating himself in the offseason, Sandoval got off to solid start in 2011. He was hitting .313 with 5 HRs and 14 RBI when he got hurt. He was leading the team in home runs. Now, Aubrey Huff leads the Giants with 8 HRs.
Yeah, it’s that bad. But the Panda gives the Giants a needed bat. Bruce Bochy has talked about keep Nate Schierholtz in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, with Sandoval hitting No. 5. Please, Bruce, let’s not.
I think we can all agree Sandoval is the best hitter in the Giants’ lineup right now. And you put your best hitter in the No. 3 hole. No. 3 is where Albert Pujols hits. It’s where Joey Votto hits, where Ryan Braun hits. It’s where The Panda should hit.
If we were drawing up the lineup for Tuesday’s game in Arizona, it would look like this: CF Andres Torres, 2B Manny Burriss, 3B Pablo Sandoval, 1B Aubrey Huff, LF Cody Ross, LF Nate Schierholtz, SS Brandon Crawford, C Eli Whiteside, P Matt Cain.