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Giants 8, Diamondbacks 5: Giants perform some two-out magic in Arizona

San Francisco Giants' Angel Pagan follows through on a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of an baseball game on Thursday, April 3, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

San Francisco Giants’ Angel Pagan follows through on a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the eighth inning of an baseball game on Thursday, April 3, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

WP: Jean Machi (2-0)
HR: Brandon Belt (3), Brandon Hicks (1), Angel Pagan (1)

BOX SCORE

The Giants dialed up some more two-out magic to rally past the Diamondbacks and take three games in the season-opening four-game series.

With two out in the eighth inning, pinch-hitter Michael Morse slapped a single up the middle to score Juan Perez to tie the game 5-5.

Then Angel Pagan delivered a three-run home run into the pool area in right-center to give the Giants an 8-5 victory.

“We’re just trying to be patient, not panicking when we’re trailing on the scoreboard,” Pagan said. “And it’s been working. Everybody’s putting the best at-bat possible for the next guy to get the job done. It happened to me in that at-bat.”

So far this season, 16 of the 23 runs scored by the Giants have come with two outs. One of those seven “other” runs was scored on a play in which the second out was recorded.

The season is only four days old, but the Giants have shown some early ability to score in the clutch.

TIMMY’S DEBUT

Tim Lincecum’s 2014 debut was a mixed bag.

Unlike Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain, Lincecum was able to pitch into the sixth inning.

He struck out seven and walked none. It was only the 17th time in 221 career starts that Lincecum has not issued a walk.

That was the good news.

The bad news? A two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning, and two-run home run by Mike Trumbo in the sixth inning. Both blasts went to deep center field.

Lincecum was unsure what he’ll do next again Goldschmidt, who has belted six home runs in 24 career at-bats against Lincecum.

“I’m going to start throwing underhand to him,” Lincecum said. “I don’t know, I’ve just got to figure out something.”

But, on the whole, I’d say a good start for The Freak.

BELTED, AGAIN

Brandon Belt became the fifth San Francisco Giant to hit three home runs in the first four games of a season when he took Bronson Arroyo deep in the first inning. Willie Mays accomplished the feat four times. Kevin Mitchell did once (1989) as did Barry Bonds (2003).

“I said before the season I would hit 74 home runs,” he quipped. “So we’ll see what happens.”

Three of Belt’s six hits this season have been home runs. He also has six strikeouts in 18 at-bats.

Belt is on pace to hit 121 home runs this season.

NO SAVE FOR SANTI

Mean ol’ Bruce Bochy!

Santiago Casilla was one out from recording a six-out save. He retired all five batters he faced, two by strikeouts.

But with left-hander Eric Chavez set to bat with two out and no one on in the night, the Giants manager brought in Javier Lopez to get the final out, which he did.

No save for Santiago.

FRIDAY

Ryan Vogelsong takes the mound as the Dodgers open a three-game series in Los Angeles. As it is the Dodgers’ home opener, first pitch is at 1:05 p.m. Hyun-jin Ryu will start for the Dodgers.

 

Diamondbacks 5, Giants 4: Giants find first experience with replay challenge very unappealing

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock (11) is tagged by Matt Cain (18) at home plate in the fourth inning. Pollock was ruled safe. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock (11) is tagged by Matt Cain (18) at home plate in the fourth inning. Pollock was ruled safe. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

  • LP: Juan Guiterrez (0-1)
    HR: Brandon Belt (2)

BOX SCORE

So the rule that was supposed to keep the umpires from sticking it to the Giants didn’t keep the umpires from sticking it to the Giants.

The Giants’ first experience with a replay challenge didn’t go the Giants’ way, and they ended up losing because of it.

With A.J. Pollock on first base in the fourth inning, Matt Cain appeared to catch Pollock leaning and picked him off. Umpire Chris Guccione called him safe.

It didn’t take long for manager Bruce Bochy to bounce out of the dugout to challenge the call via a replay.

However, it took the replay umpire 3 minutes and 45 seconds to come to a decision.

CSN Bay Area showed three different angles of the play. On one angle, you can’t tell when Pollack’s hand touched the bag because the bag blocks the view.

On another angle, Brandon Belt’s size 15 gunboats block the view of Pollock’s hand for a moment. But you can see when Pollock’s hand touches the base and when he’s tagged.

The third angle, from the outfield, you can’t see when Belt’s tag makes contact.

I don’t know if one angle provided a definitive angle, and maybe that’s what the replay ump was looking for — one definitive replay. But when you put all three replays together, you can clearly tell when the tag occurs and where Pollock’s hand was. And it was not on the bag yet.

He was out. But the replay umpire apparently didn’t see it that way. Pollock was allowed to stay at first.

A couple of batters later, Buster Posey had a pitch pop out of his mitt and roll away. Pollock, now on third, charged for home, as did Cain. Cain caught the ball from Posey, but slipped as he went to tag Pollock.

Still, Cain was able to clip Pollock’s heel before his foot touched the plate. However, home plate umpire Eric Cooper called Pollock safe.

This time, you only needed one look at the replay to see the ump got it wrong.

However, having exhausted his only unsuccessful review, Bochy could not appeal.

The Giants went on to lose by one run.

With this replay system, what MLB is trying to avoid is having managers challenge every reasonably close play. So they want some kind of penalty for an unsuccessful challenge.

But the whole purpose of the replay system is to ensure that bad calls don’t decide games, like they did Tuesday.

So there needs to be a better solution.

Here’s an idea:

A manager makes his first challenge in the first six innings. The call is upheld on review.

The manager challenges a second call in the first six innings. This call is again upheld.

Now the team can challenge no more plays in the first six innings, and the manager is tossed from the game.

Wednesday: Tim Hudson makes his Giants debut as the Giants face the Diamondbacks and Trevor Cahill at 6:40 p.m.

Baseball’s next rule change should be eliminating the takeout slide

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro grimaces as his leg is caught under a sliding St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday on a double play attempt during the first inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League championship series Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro grimaces as his leg is caught under a sliding St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Holliday on a double play attempt during the first inning of Game 2 of baseball’s National League championship series Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Baseball’s two newest rule changes made their debuts on Opening Day.

The rule on limiting home-plate collision was a non-issue on Monday, as we predicted it would be most days during the season.

The rule allowing replay challenges of close calls was used five times in MLB on Monday, with two of the calls being overturned.

The Giants didn’t have any replay challenges in their game with the Diamondbacks, although there was one play when it could have been used.

In the fifth inning, second baseman Joaquin Arias fielded a ball in the hole between first and second, spun and threw to second. However, it was ruled that Arias’ throw drew Brandon Crawford off the bag and all runners were safe.

The replay showed that it was a very, very close play. Crawford’s foot wasn’t ON the bag, but it may have been up against the bag.

A replay challenge may not have been conclusive enough to overturn the call, but it brought up an interesting discussion on the replay rule.

One play that is not reviewable for replays is the play at second base on double plays. In other words, the “neighborhood” play.

The neighborhood play is one of those unwritten rules of baseball in which umpires will allow middle infielder to not actually be on the bag when receiving a throw to complete a double play. They simply need to be in the neighborhood of the base. It is intended to protect infielders from potential injury from a takeout slide at second.

But if you’re concerned about protecting infielders, why not just put a rule in the book that prohibits the takeout slide.

Oh wait! There’s already a rule. It’s called Rule 7.09(d), which reads …

“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;”

That seems pretty clear. How is it that takeout slides are permitting at all with a rule that is so clear?

Well, it comes from the interpretation of the comment after rule 7.09(d), which reads:

“If the batter or a 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’s a very, very broad interpretation of this comment that has led to the takeout slide.

What this comment is saying that if the momentum created by a runner trying to reach a base safely causes him to come in contact with a fielder after the runner has been put out, that contact, in itself, is not considered interference.

But what this broad interpretation has created is that any contact between the runner and fielder is OK as long as the runner can show that he could be in contact with the base at some point during his “slide.”

But the comment is really just talking about incidental contact. So maybe what we need is a rule that talks about willful or deliberate action of the runner.

Oh wait! We already have one. It’s called rule 7.09(e).

“If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.”

Well, that seems pretty clear.

One thing the critics of the new home-plate collision rule have complained about is how these rules are making the game softer.

But this really isn’t about making the game softer. It’s really not about protecting infielders or even runners (Bryce Harper took a knee to the head on his takeout slide on Monday).

What this is really about is the simple point that a runner who has been eliminated from the play should not be allowed to impact the play after he’s been eliminated.

And we don’t even need a new rule to make sure that happens.

We just need to enforce the rules that are already written.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8: Giants give skid in season openers the boot

  • San Francisco Giants' Sergio Romo celebrates the final out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Phoenix.  The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    San Francisco Giants’ Sergio Romo celebrates the final out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, March 31, 2014, in Phoenix. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • WP: Jean Machi (1-0)
  • Save: Sergio Romo (1)
  • HR: Brandon Belt (1), Buster Posey (1)

BOX SCORE

Hey, it wasn’t pretty. But it’s a win.

And in the end, that’s all that matters.

The Giants rallied from four runs down to beat the Diamondbacks 9-8 for their first season-opening win in four years.

Due in part to sloppy defense, the Giants trailed 6-2 after five innings and 7-3 after six.

But the Giants tallied four runs in the seventh to tie the game, with all four runs scoring with two outs.

With Joaquin Arias on first, rookie Ehire Adrianza came in to hit for reliever Yusmeiro Petit and delivered a double to right, scoring Arias.

After Oliver Perez relieved starter Brandon McCarthy, Angel Pagan shot a double to left off the glove of Martin Prado, scoring Adrianza.

After a Brandon Belt single moved Pagan to third, the Giants caught a break. With a pitch headed to his right shoulder, Pablo Sandoval with a part check-swing, part trying to avoid being hit, made contact with the ball and blooped into shallow center off the glove of shortstop Chris Owings, scoring Pagan.

After a Buster Posey single loaded the bases, Hunter Pence walked to tie the game.

Then in the top of the ninth, again with two outs, Buster Posey delivered a huge two-run home run to left to give the Giants a 9-7.

Despite giving up a solo home run to Miguel Montero, Sergio Romo was able to close out the game for the win.

The box score says the Giants made two errors. But really there should have four or five or more.

“They let an intern do it for the first game,” Giants announcer Duane Kuiper said on Monday’s official scorer.

Let’s look at them.

Leading off the fourth, Mark Trumbo reached when Brandon Belt could handle his grounder for Error No. 1.

The next batter, Miguel Montero, hit a chopper to short that Sandoval cut over to field. But he dropped the ball for Error No. 2.

Two batters later, Gerardo Parra singled home Trumbo, but Miguel Montero was called out on Pence’s throw home and Posey’s sweep tag. Except for one thing, Posey dropped the throw. Non-error No. 1.

In the fifth inning, Joaqin Arias fielding a grounder but his throw to second drew Brandon Crawford off the bag. It was ruled a fielder’s choice. Non-error No. 2.

The next batter, McCarthy hit a grounder that should have been a 4-2-3 double play. But Arias’ throw short-hopped Posey at the plate, and the Giants only got the force at home. You can’t presume a double play, so non-error No. 3.

Luckily, neither of Arias’ gaffes cost the Giants any runs.

That wasn’t the case with Belt in the sixth inning. Petit had Paul Goldschmidt picked off as Belt started the run down. Then Belt somehow lost focus and allowed Goldschmidt to slip into second. He then scored on Trumbo’s single. Non-error No. 4.

In the eighth, Aaron Hill hit a slow roller to Sandoval, who fielded the ball but his throw to first sailed over the head of Belt. Luckily, it bounced off some plexiglass the protects the photographer’s well, so Hill could advance no further. The play was scored a single, but we’ll call it non-error No. 5.

In the ninth, Chris Owings tried for a bunt single to Sandoval, who had enough time to field the ball and get Owings. But Sandoval did not come up with the ball cleanly. It was ruled a hit, but we’ll call it non-error No. 6.

Not pretty. But the bats rescued the Giants on Opening Night.

Tuesday: Matt Cain takes the mound for the Giants against Wade Miley. First pitch is 6:40 p.m.

Shocking development: We actually found people NOT picking Dodgers to win NL West

gintdodg

Browsing through presason prognosticators for the 2014 season was not all that exciting for Giants fans.

Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers, Dodgers Dodgers, Dodgers.

It seems like everybody and their Aunt Jemima is picking the Dodgers to win the NL West in 2014 … or worse.

Yeah, the Almighty Dollar is the sexy pick for 2014.

If there is a consolation for Giants fans, it’s two-fold.

1, Of those folks picking the Dodgers to take the NL West, many — if not a majority — are also predicting the Giants to secure a wild-card spot.

2, When the Giants won World Series titles in 2010 and 2012, there weren’t a lot of people picking them to NL West in those seasons.

But not everyone is being seduced by the Dodgers’ bling.

Here’s a sampling of the prognosticators who are actually picking the Giants to take the NL West in 2014.

  • Phil Rogers of MLB.com
  • Kevin Millar of MLB Network
  • Pedro Gomez of ESPN
  • Jeremy Lundblad of ESPN Stats and Info
  • Peter Pascarelli of ESPN Radio
  • Joe Sheehan of SI.com
  • Matt Fisher of Fansided.com
  • Mike Cardillo of thebiglead.com
  • Jason McIntyre of thebiglead.com

My wish for Opening Day: a win for the San Francisco Giants

atat

In baseball, everything is amplified on Opening Day.

Fans sometimes forget that the season is 162 games long on Opening Day.

Wins seem bigger. And so do losses.

With that in mind, here’s a stat for San Francisco Giants fans.

The Giants have won two World Series championships since the last time they won on Opening Day.

Yes, it’s been four years since the Giants won on Opening Day. That came on Opening Day 2010 when Tim Lincecum and the Giants beat the Astros 5-2.

Since then, the Giants have lost to the Dodgers (2-1 in 2011), Diamondbacks (5-4 in 2012) and Dodgers (4-0 in 2013) — all on the road.

Since moving into AT&T Park (nee SBC Park, nee Pacific Bell Park), the Giants have opened 10 of 14 seasons on the road.

That is by design. The Giants prefer to delay their home games to get better weather days later in the season. This season, that appears to be a good call as rain in the forecast for the Bay Area Monday and Tuesday.

But that decision has led to some unhappy Opening Days for Giants fans. The Giants have lost five of their last six Opening Days on the road.

By comparison, the Giants have won their last five home openers. The Giants are 11-3 in home openers at their ballpark by the bay.

Yes, we know the weather is yucky on opening week this year. But when you’ve sold out your last 246 home games, does it really matter when you play your home game.

So for next year, Giants, please, would you think about requesting a home game on Opening Day? It would be nice, especially if the Giants win another championship. It is an even-number year.

In the meantime, we’d like a win in Arizona on Opening Day 2014. It’s been a long time since the Giants had a 1.000 winning percentage.

A couple of surprises as San Francisco Giants lock down opening day roster

San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford is projected to sit when facing left-handed pitchers this season.

San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford is projected to sit when facing left-handed pitchers this season.

Marco Scutaro is on the DL.

So is Jeremy Affeldt.

Ehire Adrianza makes the club.

So does Brandon Hicks.

So long, Roger Kieschnick.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced his team’s 25-man roster for opening day, and there weren’t a lot of surprises.

Juan Gutierrez beat out Derek Law for the last spot in the bullpen, with Law being sent down to Double-A Richmond.

Juan Perez beat out Tyler Colvin for the last outfield spot, with Colvin heading to Triple-A Fresno.

With Tony Abreu being placed on waivers (then clearing them and re-signing with team) and Scutaro on the DL, Adrianza and Hicks were locks to make the game.

The Giants designated OF Roger Kieschnick for assignment to make room for Hicks on the 40-man roster. Kieschnick was an outfielder prospect with the Giants who battled injuries in the minors. He made his big-league debut last season, but appeared overmatched in the bigs. He hit .202 with 0 HR, 5 RBI and 29 Ks in 95 PAs.

Bochy announced the Brandon Belt will hit in the No. 2 hole in Monday’s opener against the Diamondbacks and Brandon McCarthy. It looks as if Belt will be Bochy’s No. 2 hitter of choice against righties, and Pence will take the spot against lefties. His lineup for Monday’s game is as follows.

CF Angel Pagan
1B Brandon Belt
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
LF Michael Morse
2B Joaquin Arias
SS Brandon Crawford
P Madison Bumgarner

One surprise that came out of Saturday’s announcement: Bochy plans to sit Brandon Crawford against lefties. In those cases, Arias would move to short and Hicks would start at 2B.

Last season, Crawford had a slash line of .269/.333/.394 against righties. Against southpaws, it went .199/.258/.288.

Against the Diamdonbacks, that means Crawford will sit Game 2 of the series against Wade Miley, but start the other three games (presuming Bronson Arroyo is healthy enough to start Game 4).

Here’s the 25-man roster:

STARTING PITCHERS

  • LH Madison Bumgarner
  • RH Matt Cain
  • RH Tim Hudson
  • RH Tim Lincecum
  • RH Ryan Vogelsong

BULLPEN

  • RH Sergio Romo
  • RH Santiago Casilla
  • LH Javier Lopez
  • RH Yusmeiro Petit
  • LH David Huff
  • RH Jean Machi
  • RH Juan Gutierrez

CATCHERS

  • Buster Posey
  • Hector Sanchez

INFIELDERS

  • Brandon Belt
  • Joaquin Arias
  • Brandon Crawford
  • Pablo Sandoval
  • Ehire Adrianza
  • Brandon Hicks

OUTFIELDERS

  • Mike Morse
  • Angel Pagan
  • Hunter Pence
  • Gregor Blanco
  • Juan Perez

DISABLED LIST

  • 2B Marco Scutaro
  • LHP Jeremy Affeldt

 

San Francisco Giants’ No. 2 hitter is …. Hunter Pence?

San Francisco Giants' Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants' 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence singles against the Colorado Rockies in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 5-2 victory in a baseball game in Denver on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy unveiled a lineup Thursday night against the A’s that he said could be the Giants’ opening day lineup.

It went like this:

  1. CF Angel Pagan
  2. RF Hunter Pence
  3. 3B Brandon Belt
  4. C Buster Posey
  5. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  6. LF Mike Morse
  7. 2B Joaquin Arias
  8. SS Brandon Crawford

You’ll notice the player Bochy plugged into the No. 2 spot normally occupied by 2B Marco Scutaro, who will open the season on the DL.

Now a lot gets talked about batting order. Sabermatricians will tell you that batting order does matter, but only slightly.

However, the stat geeks will also tell you the best batting order is one that is based on descending order of on-base percentage or OPS.

But what numbers do you use to open the season? Spring training numbers or last year’s numbers?

Here is what the Giants’ lineup would look like based on decreasing OBP from spring training:

  1. C Buster Posey
  2. RF Hunter Pence
  3. LF Mike Morse
  4. 1B Brandon Belt
  5. 2B Joaquin Arias
  6. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  7. CF Angel Pagan
  8. SS Brandon Crawford

Now on decreasing OBP from 2013:

  1. C Buster Posey
  2. 1B Brandon Belt
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. RF Hunter Pence
  5. CF Angel Pagan
  6. SS Brandon Crawford
  7. 2B Joaquin Arias
  8. LF Mike Morse

OK, we can agree that Bochy is nowhere near going to a strictly sabermetric lineup. So let’s look at conventional wisdom when putting together lineup.

Conventional wisdom says your leadoff hitter brings a combination of a good OBP and speed (sometimes speed seems to win out).

You’re No. 2 hitter should be patient and selective (allowing for leadoff runner to steal second — provided he even arrived on first base in the first place), should not strikeout much, have good bat control and if he has speed, that’s a bonus.

Your No. 3 hitter is generally the best overall hitter in your lineup.

Your No. 4 hitter is your best power threat. No. 5 is your second-best power threat. Nos. 6-8 basically based on descending quality of hitter.

Scutaro fit well in the No. 2 hole because he sees a lot of pitches (3.89 per PA, third-best on team) and he has an excellent contact rate (94.3 pct, tops on team).

Pence saw 3.77 pitches per AB (just under league average). His contact rate of 75.5 percent is also below league average.

But looking at the lineup, there weren’t a lot of better options, using those two measurements.

Brandon Belt saw 3.98 pitches per PA, but his contact rate was 77.3. His strikeout percentage of 21.9 made him the only regular to whiff above league average. Brandown Crawford saw 3.76 pitches per PA. Joaquin Arias 3.17.

So while conventional wisdom says Pence should be the Giants’ cleanup hitter, Bochy’s willingness to put him No. 2 shows that’s he’s willing to break with conventional wisdom.

“He does give you speed, plus he’s a guy who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, too,” Bochy said of Pence, who went 2 for 4 on Thursday. “That’s not a bad thing to have at the top of the order.”

Pence, who batted No. 2 for 45 games in his rookie season with the Astros (hitting .296), says likes the idea of batting second.

But he added: “I’m probably not going to be bunting.”

Jeremy’s broken: San Francisco Giants put Affeldt back on the disabled list

Jeremy Affeldt went to the DL with a strained MCL

Jeremy Affeldt went to the DL with a strained MCL

The San Francisco Giants were hoping to escape Arizona without having to put anyone on the disabled list.

That hope ended Tuesday when Marco Scutaro revealed he would open the season on the DL after a trip to the doctor didn’t help resolved his lingering back issue.

Then on Wednesday, as the rest of the team headed north for the Bay Bridge Series, Jeremy Affeldt was placed on the DL with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Affeldt felt discomfort in his knee last Saturday when he gave up four runs against the White Sox.

Bochy seemed frustrated by his left-handed reliever.

“He didn’t have his brace on,” Bochy said.

It’s the brace that Affeldt has been wearing — or supposed to be wearing — ever since hurting his knee way back in May 2012. You’ll recall that’s when Affeldt hurt his knee when his then-four-year-old son jumped into his arms after Affeldt arrived home from a game.

That leaves three pitchers to compete for two spots left in the bullpen, as Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff appear locks as long relievers.

Jean Machi is on the 40-man roster and is out of options, but he has struggled this spring. Non-roster invitees Derek Law and Juan Gutierrez have impressed this spring. But to put them on the opening day roster would require opening a spot on the 40-man roster.

The Giants have one spot open currently, but that is expected to be filled by another non-roster invitee, infielder Brandon Hicks. Hicks is expected to make the team as infield help with Scutaro opening the season on the shelf.

Three other pitchers — Dan Runzler, Heath Hembree and Erik Cordier — will make the trip north with the team this weekend, but Bochy does not view them as candidates to make the opening-day roster.

So the Giants head north, having avoided major injuries like the Tommy John surgeries facing the likes of the Braves’ Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy or the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin. Even Clayton Kershaw had an MRI on his back and will miss his start Sunday.

So by comparison, the Giants are getting off light.

They hope to have Affeldt back by the middle of April. Scutaro’s return date is far less certain. Buster Posey sat out Wednesday with a tight hamstring, and Pablo Sandoval has a sore hand that will sideline him for some of this weekend’s games.

Otherwise, the Giants are marching ahead toward the 2014 season.

Can you really believe anything Pablo Sandoval’s agent says?

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval (48) hits a solo home run against Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, May 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

San Francisco Giants’ Pablo Sandoval (48) hits a solo home run against Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen (54) during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Sunday, May 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

There’s a reason people think sports agents are weasels.

Pablo Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vazquez, spoke with the media on Sunday to discuss how far apart Sandoval’s camp is with the Giants concerning a contract extension for the 2012 World Series MVP.

And he sounded like an idiot.

Vazquez said Sandoval’s weight issues are a thing of the past and should not be a factor in contract negotiations.

What?!?

That’s like a pitcher with chronic elbow problems over the past five years saying his elbow issues are in the past because he hasn’t had a flare up in six months.

Sandoval’s weight has been an issue since he first dawned a XXXL Giants uniform. And it’s gone up and down over the years, mostly up.

Finally, last summer, Sandoval found Jesus, so to speak. Or maybe Jenny Craig.

Starting last summer, he put himself on a diet. Then he spent the offseason getting in shape. And he looks good.

Could it be that someone finally got to him, saying that no team would give him a big contract when he became a free agent after the 2014 season if he didn’t get his weight under control?

Well, we’ve seen this act before. What assurances do we have that once Sandoval’s motivation is taken away in the form of a long, lucrative contract that he won’t return to his chubby ways?

“The weight issues he had before, you’ll never see that again,” Vasquez said. “He will have his trainer with him until he retires.”

Oh, OK. So if the Giants offer Sandoval a five-year contract that includes a clause which would allow the Giants to void the contract if Sandoval’s weight climbs above a certain point, Vazquez would agree to that?

Sure, he would.

Vazquez would have been better off to say that Sandoval is committed to this lifestyle change, the result of which will be a monster season in 2014, just as he heads out to free agency.

Instead, he throws out the ludicrous remark that the Panda’s weight is a non-issue.

It really makes you question anything that comes out of Vazquez’s mouth.

Sandoval’s camp wants the discussion to start in the area of the five-year, $90 million deal the Giants gave to Hunter Pence at the end of the 2013 season.

The Giants countered with a three-year deal worth $40 million. Of course, that’s according to Vazquez.

When I first heard that deal, it didn’t make any sense to me. When you make an offer to a player entering his free agent season, generally the offer needs to be something that knocks off the player’s socks.

Three years at $13.3 million per doesn’t do the trick.

Sandoval is practically guaranteed almost $15 million for the 2015 season. That’s where the qualifying offer likely will be approaching next offseason. As long as Sandoval doesn’t have some big injury this season, the Giants will certainly offer him the qualifying deal.

So I wonder if Vazquez is telling the truth or not.

Perhaps the three-year, $40 million deal is a base deal with a lot of incentive clauses or possibly option years added on, with escalating salaries that kick in if benchmarks are reached.

Here’s one clue that Vazquez wasn’t telling the whole story.

Vazquez said he doubts a deal will be done by opening day saying “I don’t think in 24 hours they’ll jump from three years to five or six.”

No mention of money. Just years. No mention that the Giants “offer” is for $13.3 million per season and the Sandoval camp is looking for a deal in the neighborhood of $18 million a year.

It does make sense that the Giants would offer a shorter deal. It also makes sense for Sandoval’s camp to wait for a five-year deal.

The free agent class of 2015 is pretty lean.

So what happens next? If the two sides don’t agree to a deal by opening day, will they continue to talk during the season. Vazquez didn’t say.

But he did say “I know for sure that after the All-Star break, if nothing happens, then it’s on to free agency.”

In other words, no deal at the end of the season, like the one Pence signed.

But, of course, can you believe anything Vazquez says?

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