April 2012

San Francisco Giants 2, San Diego Padres 1: Another positive step for Tim Lincecum

BOX SCORE

Tim Lincecum is still not the Tim Lincecum we are used to seeing dominate teams. But he made another positive step in that direction.

After getting his first win of the season Monday in New York, Lincecum got another win in a solid eight-inning, 122-pitch outing against the Padres.

So let’s break it down, the good and the bad.

GOOD: He got his first quality start of the season, giving up no earned runs in eight innings. His ERA is at 5.74 now.

BAD: His velocity is still not what we’re used to seeing. He hit 90 and 91 at spots, but was consistently at 89 mph most of the game.

GOOD: He stayed at 89 mph all the way through the game, even as his pitch count got up into the 120s.

BAD: He struggled to knock batters out with a strikeout pitch. He only had five, his second lowest-total this season despite facing a season-high 31 batters. And three of those strikeouts were to the opposing pitcher, Anthony Bass.

GOOD: Even though the Padres were hitting the ball, they were making outs. The Padres only managed three hits and none of them left the infield: a swinging bunt by Jesus Guzman in the first inning,  a grounder by Yonder Alonso to second baseman Emmanuel Burriss in the second inning which was originally rules an error (correctly), then changed to a hit (incorrectly), and a bunt single by Will Venable in the eighth.

BAD: Lincecum walked four.

GOOD: Yes, but only one of them came after the third inning.

BAD: If not for two stellar running catches to the warning track by Melky Cabrera in left, it would have been much worse for Lincecum.

GOOD: After those hard shots in the fourth, Lincecum set down 8 of the next 9 without much fuss. In fact those outs by Cabrera were part of a stretch when Lincecum retired 12 of 13.

BAD: It was the Padres.

GOOD: It’s part of a longer stretch. Lincecum has now allowed one earned run in the past 13 innings (0.62 ERA) and two earned runs in his past 17 innings (1.06 ERA).

OTHER NOTES

  • Pablo Sandoval went 0 for 4 to end his season-opening hitting streak at 20. A blessing in disguise maybe. The Panda appeared to be pressing in recent days and did not look good Saturday, making out on first pitches three times.
  • Angel Pagan’s bunt single in the eighth extended his hitting streak to 13 games.
  • Brandon Belt had the big hit with his two-run double in the seventh inning. He’s hitting .278 now.
  • Lincecum broke up Bass’ perfect game bid with an infield single in the sixth.
  • Santiago Casilla recorded his third save in three tries, striking out one and only allowing a baserunner on his own error.
  • Before the game, the Giants sent pitcher Eric Hacker back to Fresno after his quality start Friday and called up reliever Steve Edlefsen to give them seven pitchers in the bullpen again.

UP NEXT

Madison Bumgarner faces lefty Clayton Richard. No word whether Saturday’s hero Belt will be in there vs. a lefty or if we’ll see Brett Pill, or even Buster Posey at 1B (day game after night game) and Hector Sanchez catching. We’ll look for Belt in there (either at first or left field) and scuffling Nate Schierholtz to get a day off.

San Francisco Giants 6, Cincinnati Reds 5: Angel Pagan sends Giants home happy

BOX SCORE

The Giants broke a lot of streaks Thursday when Angel Pagan’s three-run home run in the ninth inning gave them a much-needed win over the Reds.

It is the first time the Giants have won in Cincinnati since 2010, a string of seven consecutive loss.

It was the first time this season the Giants won a game in which they trailed after the seventh inning. They were 0-9 in those games.

It was the first time they won when trailing after two innings. They were 0-6 in those games.

It was also the fourth consecutive time the Giants have won a series finale before heading to another city.

“We were just thinking ‘happy flight’,” Pagan said. “It’s a good road trip, I think. Now, we’ve got to go home and take care of business.”

The Giants head home 10-9, which isn’t too terrible considering 13 of their first 19 games were on the road. The old adage is to win at home and split on the road.

Thursday’s win gave the Giants a 4-3 road trip, and they are now 6-7 on the road for the season — 6-4 after that season-opening sweep in Arizona.

Pagan is now hitting .241 with a .277 OBP. Not exactly what you look for from your leadoff guy. But after a very slow start, Pagan has hit safely in 11 straight games, batting .308 over that span. He also hit three home runs on the road trip, from the right side and left.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Joaquin Arias had a solid debut at the plate after getting called up from Fresno on Wednesday. He went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. His walk started the ninth-inning rally.
  • The bottom of the order made contributions. 2B Ryan Theriot went 2 for 3 with a sac fly. He singled after Arias’ walk in the ninth.
  • Pablo Sandoval went 1 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to 19 games.
  • Santiago Casilla struck out the side in the ninth to record his second save.

UP NEXT

The Giants open a nine-game homestand with a 7:15 p.m. game against the Padres on Friday. The Giants haven’t officially named a starter to face San Diego’s Cory Luebke. But Eric Hacker’s agent tweeted Wednesday that his client would get called up Friday to make the start. There are other roster moves the Giants need to make in order for that to happen. We would expect Dan Otero to be sent down and Brian Wilson to be moved to the 60-day DL.

Cincinnati Reds 4, San Francisco Giants 2: Giants throw this one away

BOX SCORE

You could point a lot of areas where the Giants fell short Wednesday in Cincinnati.

You could mention that after scoring 4 or more runs in their first 10 road games, the Giants have gone back-to-back games without scoring more than two.

You could point that the Giants were only able to score two runs despite collecting nine hits and one walk in five innings off Bronson Arroyo.

Or you could question Bruce Bochy’s decision to send Barry Zito back out to the mound for the seventh inning after sitting right at 100 pitches through six innings.

But the bottom line was that the Giants could have won this game if they could simply throw and catch the ball.

After Zito gave up a leadoff homer to Scott Rolen in the seventh, Clay Hensley was summoned from the bullpen and gave up a single to Ryan Ludwick.

Ryan Hanigan tried to bunt Ludwick to second. If Hensley throws Hanigan out to first, the Giants could have escaped the inning with the lead.

Hanigan would have been out No. 1 one. Then Willie Harris’ infield pop up would have out No. 2. Then Wilson Valdez’s fly to right, after a walk to Drew Stubbs, would have ended the inning.

Instead, Hensley fielded the ball and slipped as he took a look at second. But he didn’t reset his feet as he threw to first and sailed it over Emmanuel Burriss’ head and into right field.

Now, there’s second and third and none out. Harris’ pop is out No. 1 and a walk to Stubbs loaded the bases.

Nate Schierholtz caught Valdez’s fly and threw home to get Ludwick trying to score. But catcher Hector Sanchez could not come up with the ball and Ludwick scored the tying run as the other runners moved up. Schierholtz was charged with the error, even though it was dead on the mark. Sanchez just whiffed the one-hopper.

Then Jeremy Affeldt came in and threw a wild pitch that allowed Hanigan to score the go-ahead run. Joey Votto’s double to center completed the four-run rally.

OTHER NOTES

  • The error-filled seventh (and lack of offense) wasted Barry Zito’s third quality start in four starts. He gave up 1 run on five hits in six innings. His season ERA is 1.67. The Giants couldn’t ask for more.
  • Pablo Sandoval went 1 for 4 to extend his season-opening hitting streak to 18 games.

UP NEXT

Ryan Vogelsong takes on Homer Bailey at 9:35 a.m. Thursday. If the Giants can win, they’ll go home with a 4-3 road trip. Good enough, all things considered.

What set some San Francisco Giants fans off about the reporting of Aubrey Huff and his anxiety disorder

San Francisco Giants fans finally got news regarding Aubrey Huff’s absence from the team.

And some reacted by getting angry — not at Huff, but at those charged with reporting the news.

After the Giants placed Huff on the 15-day disabled list because of an anxiety disorder, the three major media outlets covering the Giants took three different approaches with blog posts on the Huff news.

Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle put a post that was sympathetic toward Huff and cautioned restraint and understanding from those on the internet. Schulman even shared a personal note about his own mental health issues for context. You can read it here.

Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News took a more middle-of-the-road approach, simply reporting the details as revealed by team, but also including a statement that anxiety can be a debilitating condition. You can read it here.

But the post that really caught the ire of some fans was the one by Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. You can read it here.

Baggarly dug a bit deeper, revealing some personal info on Huff, including the fact that Huff’s wife had filed for divorce this offseason.
Some fans felt that the reporting of such personal issues amid a report that Huff is battling anxiety issues showed a lack of class on Baggarly’s part.

MoreSplashHits does not necessarily agree with this. In fact, we felt that the added details of his divorce, while personal, made Huff a more sympathetic figure in this story.

Without that information, Huff comes off as a baseball player making $10 million a year who is having anxiety because he’s not hitting and may lose his starting job to a younger player.

With the information, you see a guy who has anxiety over losing his family. Huff has two young children. Then the on-field issues seem more a by-product of the anxiety, instead of the cause.

Where Baggarly got in trouble, at least with some fans, was the general tone of his post leading up to the revelations about his personal life.

The tone, whether intended or not, painted Huff in a negative light. Baggarly poorly strung together phrases like when Huff left the team by “simply leaving a text message for Bochy,” that the team was “in the dark for several days,” and that his teammates still don’t have a full explanation.

But the smoking gun came when Baggarly added “the timing was especially curious” coming after Huff’s rough day Saturday when he had a mental lapse while playing second base for the first time in his career.

The “especially curious” comment seems to minimize the anxiety disorder diagnosis.

And the statement that the team was “left in the dark for several days” is not accurate. For one, the timing is exaggerated. It was more like two days, a little more than 48 hours from the time we found out that Huff wasn’t with the team to when we found out why.

If by “the team” Baggarly was referring simply to the players being in the dark, that wasn’t entirely Huff’s fault. But if Baggarly is referring to the team as in the players, coaches and front office, the statement is inaccurate.

Bochy said he didn’t know what the issue was on Monday. But on Tuesday, he said Huff had a legitimate reason to leave the team, implying that the Giants knew what was going on.

This was further confirmed by the report that Huff has already spoken to a specialist in Florida which the team helped provide him.

So the Giants knew what was going on. They just weren’t telling anyone. Why? Because it’s a personal health issue, and they didn’t want to say anything until they had some answers.

And that’s exactly why they didn’t say anything to the players.

That’s how management in any other work field would have handled it. We just tend to forget that in the got-to-know-now world of pro sports.

Given the context of Baggarly’s opening tone, the reporting of Huff’s personal issues gives the appearance of piling on. And that’s why some responded negatively.

Baggarly’s structure also seems to imply a cause-and-effect that may be inaccurate — that baseball struggles led to anxiety.

It may have been the other way around.

It could be that Huff’s anxiety led to a lack of focus on the field, leading to his recent hitting woes and to his mental lapse when he broke to cover first base (and not second base) when he was playing second base on Saturday.

In fact, that could have been the final straw for Huff, a sign he needed some help.

But the bottom line is we don’t know, nor should it be our place to figure it out.

Speaking from experience, Schulman posted this: “Everybody will have an opinion about what set this off, but you can’t know, and it’s possible Huff doesn’t know. Sometimes a panic attack just happens.”

He added: “It’s foolish to try to play psychoanalyst … and try to pick a cause.”

Well said, Hank.

Baggarly was brought to CSNBayArea.com for his ability to provide analysis along with news details. But we aren’t talking about the decision to put on a hit-and-run play, or the development of a young prospect here.

This is a serious and complicated mental health issue.

Baggarly’s attempt to link details in an effort to provide answers that are not yet available was unfair at best, reckless at worst.

All we really need to know is Huff won’t be playing for the Giants in the next two weeks. When he’s ready to tell us more, we’ll be ready to listen.

And let’s leave the analysis to the professionals.

San Francisco Giants notes: Joaquin Arias called up to replace … Aubrey Huff?

In a move anticipated Tuesday, the Giants purchased the contract of infielder Joaquin Arias from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday.

Arias arrived in Cincinnati Wednesday afternoon, but no corresponding move was announced.

Arias was pulled out of Fresno’s game Tuesday in Tacoma.

The Giants have been playing shorthanded this entire road trip. Infielder Ryan Theriot missed games Friday and Saturday with a stomach bug. He still says he feels a little weak.

After a rainout Sunday, Aubrey Huff left the team Monday for an undisclosed family emergency. Huff flew to Florida Monday, where he has an offseason home is in Tampa.

It is expected that Huff will be placed on the restricted list or bereavement list. The difference being that the bereavement list is for players missing three to seven games dealing with a family emergency, and it is a paid leave. Players place on the restricted list are for players who will be out an indefinite period and it is unpaid.

Arias had a solid spring, and impressed the Giants with his defensive abilities. He was one of the final cuts before the opening day roster was set. Arias was second on the Fresno Grizzlies with .400 average (28 for 70) with five doubles, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 18 games.

WEDNESDAY’S LINEUP: Manager Bruce Bochy is keeping Buster Posey’s hot bat in the lineup, even with Hector Sanchez getting the start at catcher as Barry Zito’s personal catcher. Here’s the lineup

  1. CF Angel Pagan
  2. LF Melky Cabrera
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. 1B Buster Posey
  5. C Hector Sanchez
  6. RF Nate Schierholtz
  7. 2B Emmanuel Burriss
  8. SS Brandon Crawford
  9. P Barry Zito

The good news is that Crawford’s elbow, which he hyper-extended in a fall while attempting to turn a double play Tuesday, is fine. The bad news is that it means no Brandon Belt.

FREDDY SANCHEZ UPDATE: Freddy Sanchez is 3 for 7 with 3 RBI in two games as a DH for the Class A San Jose Giants. Sanchez is expected to make his first start at second base on Wednesday.

RAINOUT RAMIFICATIONS: Sunday’s rainout and subsequent doubleheader on Monday will force the Giants to find a spot starter Friday at home against the Padres.

The Giants could make it a bullpen game by giving the start to Clay Hensley or Guillermo Mota. Hensley started nine games last season for the Marlins. That decision depends on how much the bullpen gets taxed during the final two games in Cincinnati.

The other option is to call up a pitcher from Fresno.

The two options are Brian Burres, who pitched Saturday for Fresno and is not slated to pitch again until Friday, or Eric Hacker, who pitched Sunday.

Burres is 1-1 with 3.38 ERA in four starts. He has 15 strikeouts and 7 walks in 24 IP.

Hacker is 4-0 with 2.19 ERA in four starts. He has 16 strikeouts and 6 walks in 24.2 IP.

A spot on the 25-man roster would need to be opened to call up either pitcher. That would likely mean sending Dan Otero down.

Also, the Giants would need to open a spot on the 40-man roster, which could be accomplished by moving Brian Wilson from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

Cincinnati Reds 9, San Francisco Giants 2: An exercise in baseball stupidity

BOX SCORE

There wasn’t much to talk about this game, as the Giants sleep-walked through a loss to the Reds.

But they got a wake-up call in the ninth inning by what only can be described as baseball stupidity.

It all started in the seventh when the game got away from the Giants.

Trailing 3-0 with two on and two out, rookie reliever hit Joey Votto in the backside with a pitch.

A perfect time for a purpose pitch to a guy who was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts, right?

Hardly.

The HBP on Votto led to another five runs in the inning for the Reds. So anyone could see that Otero wasn’t throwing at Votto.

Well, anyone but the Reds.

The Reds wanted to make it clear that you shouldn’t unintentionally throw at one of their players.

But they didn’t send their message by throwing at Otero, who was left in the game as a sacrificial lamb to save the bullpen and batted for himself to lead off the eighth.

Nor did they throw at any of the next three players who came to bat for the Giants.

They had Sam LeCure throw a pitch behind Buster Posey with one on in the ninth.

Posey was able to avoid the pitch. Then got his revenge by taking LeCure deep for a two-run home run, helping the Giants avoid being shut out for the first time this season.

I guess it could have been worse. They could have thrown at Pablo Sandoval, who could have been hit by the pitch, costing him a final chance to extend his 16-game hitting streak.

As it was, Sandoval singled in the ninth to push his streak to 17 games.

UP NEXT

The Giants send Barry Zito vs. Bronson Arroyo at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday.

Buster Posey vs. Scott Hairston: By rule, Hairston should have been called out for interference at the plate?

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, left, looks to throw to first base for a double play after getting a force out on New York Mets' Scott Hairston (12) during the ninth inning of the baseball game Saturday, April 21, 2012 at Citi Field in New York. Posey's throw to first went wide, allowing Ruben Tejada, not pictured, to score the game-winning run. The Mets won 5-4. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig).

Once again, Scott Hairston found himself in the cross-hairs of San Francisco Giants’ fans.

This time it wasn’t for delivering a game-winning hit or belting a home run against the Giants.

It was for a slide, an interpreted legal slide that led to an errant throw by Posey and cost the Giants a 5-4 loss to the New York Mets on Saturday.

Let’s set the stage for those who missed it.

The bases were loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth when Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit a bouncer to first baseman Brandon Belt. Belt threw home to force out Scott Hairston. As Posey went to throw the ball back to first in an attempt to double up Nieuwenhuis and end the inning, Hairston slid into Posey, clipping the catcher’s right foot and causing him to fall just as he threw the ball to first.

Posey’s throw sailed into right field and the Mets scored the winning run.

All media reports, including Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, called the slide a legal play. Despite Posey’s objections that he was interfered with, Hairston was ruled to be in the base line because he was able to make contact with the plate with his hand as he slid into Posey.

But here’s the point no one is talking about.

Why should a player who has been forced out be allowed to impact the play LONG AFTER he’s been eliminated from the play?

In fact, the rule book says he should not.

Rule 7.09(d) on batter on runner interference states:

“Any batter or runner who has just been put out hinders or impedes any following play being made on a runner. Such runner shall be declared out for the interference of his teammate.”

Pretty cut and dried. Except that there is an additional comment that opens that rule up for interpretation.

“If the batter or runner continues to advance after he has been put out, he shall not by that act alone be considered as confusing, hindering or impeding the fielders.”

It is that comment that allows runners sliding into second to attempt to break up double plays. But this play was not like a play at second when the runner is going hard into the base just as the infield receives the throw, forces the runner out and makes the throw to first in a bang-bang fashion.

Hairston was forced out at the plate while he was still a good 20 feet away from the plate.

Take a look at the photo at the top of this post.

Posey has already caught the ball, forced out Hairston and now the ball is in his throwing hand, ready to be released — and Hairston HAS NOT YET started his slide.

He’s already out. LONG OUT. At what point is a runner no longer be allowed to be part of the play? At what point is it purely interference and not just considered part of the completion of the play?

On this play, Hairston’s slide that clipped Posey was CLEARLY not part of the “act alone” of continuing to advance on the play. It was a deliberate effort to continue the play after he had been forced out with the explicit intent to interfere with the defender.

The only reason why Hairston was given the opportunity to interfere with Posey was that Posey hestitated briefly before throwing because pitcher Jeremy Affeldt was running to cover first base. (Now, there’s a secondary question about whether since it was Affeldt covering first whether Posey should have attempted the throw at all. But that’s not really pertinent to the argument we are making here.)

So MoreSplashHits contends that if a runner has not yet started his slide by the time he is forced out at any base, then he should be considered out on interference if he comes in contact with the defender.

Bruce Bochy and the Giants tried to lobby MLB to alter its rules about making contact with the catcher at the plays at the plate in an effort to protect catchers in the wake of Posey’s season-ending injury.

But at least when Scott Cousins barreled into Posey last May, he was a live runner on the basepaths. Even if Posey had caught the ball and maintained possession to record the out on Cousins, Cousins still would have been a live runner on the basepaths until contact was made with Posey.

In this case, Hairston was not a live baserunner. He was out, when he was allowed to contact the catcher.

MoreSplashHits believes Hairston should have been called out on interference.

That’s our interpretation of the rule. And it’s the proper interpretation of the rule.

What do you think?

San Francisco Giants 7, New York Mets 2 (Game 2): Random notes after doubly sweet Monday

BOX SCORE

I spent Monday afternoon watching Game 1 of the Giants’ twinbill in New York. But I missed most of the nightcap, which was too bad because it looked like fun.

So we’ll piece together some tidbits about the Giants in 2012 after a doubleheader sweep.

  • Pablo Sandoval went 3 for 9 with a home run and two singles in the doubleheader, extending his season-opening hitting streak to 16 games and matching Willie Mays for the San Francisco Giants record of hitting streaks to open the season.
  • Nate Schierholtz went 6 for 10 with two triples, a home run and stolen base in the doublheader. He’s hitting a team-best .372 this season. Heading to Cincinnati, expect to see more Nate the Great.
  • On a day when Aubrey Huff left the team to attend to a family emergency (the Giants hope to have him back Tuesday), manager Bruce Bochy said he’s looking for someone to step up offensively at first base. Brandon Belt went 1 for 4 with a double in the opener (he’s hitting .240). Also, no strikeouts. Brett Pill got a rare start against a RH pitcher and went 2 for 3 in the nightcap and 3 for 4 for the DH (he’s hitting .353 in limited action). Bochy even mentioned the option of using more of Buster Posey at 1B.
  • While mentioning Posey at 1B, Hector Sanchez hit his first big-league home run during the nightcap.
  • The Game 1 victory was the first for the Giants in a game in which Belt started at 1B. They are 1-5 with Belt starting at first base, 8-2 with someone else.
  • Madison Bumgarner’s 7 IP, 1 earned run outing on Monday was the Giants’ 10th quality start of the season. Also, the most recent starts by Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito would have been quality starts if they could have pitched into and through the sixth inning.
  • The Giants have scored 4+ runs in every road game this season (10 total).
  • The Giants have won every series (four) since being swept in Arizona to open the season.
  • Giants starting pitchers have an ERA of 0.86 in three starts in road games on Monday.
  • The Giants made it through 18 innings Monday without committing an error. CSNBayArea’s Andrew Baggarly commented: “It helped that Huff didn’t play an inning in the field.” Ouch!
  • SS Brandon Crawford broke out his recent funk by going 3 for 8 in the doubleheader.

UP NEXT

The Giants open a three-game series Tuesday in Cincinnati. Matt Cain, he of the 18 consecutive scoreless innings, starts against Mat Latos at 4:10 p.m. The Giants will face right-handed starters in the series: Barry Zito vs. Bronson Arroyo, 4:10 p.m. Wednesday; Ryan Vogelsong vs. Homer Bailey, 9:35 a.m. Thursday.

San Francisco Giants 6, New York Mets 1 (Game 1): Tim Lincecum pitches better … ish

BOX SCORE

A look at the box score Monday in New Yokr may give the appearance that everything is right with Tim Lincecum.

The Freak gave up one run on five hits and struck out eight. Sounds good, right?

Well……….

He also walked five and labored to get through five innings, throwing 108 pitchers (60 for strikes).

So instead of being wild in the zone (as he has been in his first three starts), Lincecum was wild out of the zone. When he got ahead 0-2, instead of giving up 0-2 hits, he threw balls that we’re easily out of strike zone — easy takes, as Mike Krukow put it.

And he did this even after the Giants had given him a 5-1 lead or 6-1 lead.

If you’re up five runs, with no one on base, throw strikes.

It seemed, at times, that even when Lincecume wasn’t to throw strikes, he could not.

He threw no fewer than 17 pitches in any of his innings, throwing between 22-28 pitches in the second through fourth innings.

He loaded the bases in the fifth on two walks and a single, but got out of it when Emmanuel Burriss bailed him out by turning a nice double play on Lincecum’s 108th pitch.

Lincecum came into this season trying to focus on throwing more strikes and avoiding walks. He walked 86 batters last season, second most in the National League.

Coming into Monday’s game, he had walked only four. He walked five on Monday. So the approach may have changed some.

But he still needs to find command of his fastball.

Like we mentioned before, the Mets are not raking the ball right now, so it was a favorable matchup for Lincecum to work out his kinks.

He’ll get another favorable matchup in his next start, at home Saturday against the NL-worst hitting Padres.

But then after that, it’s at home against the Brewers on May 4 and at the Dodgers on May 9.

So the Freak needs to get this thing ironed out soon.

San Francisco Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez set to begin rehab assignment Monday

After anguishing through an inning of watching Aubrey Huff play second base, Giants fans got some good news on Sunday.

Freddy Sanchez will make his 2012 debut by starting a minor-league rehab assignment with the Class A San Jose Giants on Monday.

The last we saw Sanchez he was taking infield practice during the season-opening series in Arizona, by all accounts, looking better than he has all spring.

We had hoped that would lead to a rehab assignment. But it didn’t, and that was two weeks ago.

Then we heard the Giants wanted to start his rehab outing last Tuesday. But that got delayed to Thursday.

When that didn’t happen, manager Bruce Bochy said he didn’t when Sanchez would be playing games.

Finally, the news came Sunday that Sanchez was headed to San Jose.

He’ll play a couple games as a designated hitter before taking to the field by Wednesday. Or at least that’s the plan.

By rule, Sanchez can spend no more than 20 days on the assignment, meaning the Giants must activate him no later than May 13.

Bochy said the Giants have Sanchez mapped out to spend 18 days in the rehab assignment, but he could return soon.

If stays on the 18-day plan, it would mean he’s scheduled to make his 2012 on May 11 at Arizona.

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