Results tagged ‘ Pablo Sandoval ’

Reason for optimism No. 10: The Panda is back.

In this photo taken Monday, June 6, 2011, San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval, rehabbing with the Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball team, watches the flight of his ball during batting practice in Fresno, Calif. (AP Photo/The Fresno Bee, John Walker)

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.

Relax Giants fans: Freak is Freaky again

Well, that was more like it.

After getting smacked around some in his first spring start, Tim Lincecum threw three hitless innings on Tuesday as the Giants lost 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs.

“My location was better and I was mixing my pitches in and out,” Lincecum said. “I didn’t throw too many off-speed pitches. My rhythm felt quick the first two innings, and then I was able to calm it down in the third.”

Here are some other highlights:

MAD BUMMER: Madison Bumgarner followed Lincecum to the mound. He started with two more scoreless innings. But in his third inning, he gave up a run and left two runners on base when he was relieved by Dan Runzler. Runzler gave a two-run double to Aramis Ramirez with both runs being charged to Bumgarner.

MORE PANDA: Pablo Sandoval had two doubles in three RBI. Being patient at the plate paid off for Sandoval on Tuesday. He worked the count to 2-0 on Ryan Dempster in his first AB. Then went to left-center for a run-scoring double. Against Todd Wellemeyer, Sandoval took a 1-1 pitch and hit it 430 feet to center. That wasn’t enough to get it out of the park and it resulted in another double.  Sandoval is 6 for 13 with two HRs, two doubles and five RBI this spring.

FREDDY SANCHEZ: Making his first spring starting, Sanchez went 0 for 3. But it included a liner out to first in his first at-bat. It’s good to see Freddy playing games on March 1. Barring any setbacks, he’ll be ready for opening day. More interesting about this debut was that Sanchez was at the leadoff spot. Andres Torres sat out again with a sore side. Aaron Rowand also was in the starting lineup, but Rowand was batting No. 8. Hopefully this is a sign that Bruce Bochy is done putting Rowand in the leadoff spot, even on days when Torres is not in the lineup. We hope.

More Panda power

Well, you can’t win them all. And in the spring, I’m not even sure you want to.

But the Giants were looking like they were headed to a 3-0 spring start when they were leading 3-0 over the Diamondbacks Sunday. But Arizona tallied four runs in the eighth of relievers Jose Casilla and Alex Hinshaw to post a 4-3 lead.

Again, we saw more encouraging signs from the desert:

MORE PANDA POWER: Pablo Sandoval continues his hot start to the spring, belting his second home run in as many days.

Sandoval belted an 0-2 pitch from Daniel Hudson deep over the fence in right in the fourth inning.

Sandoval also struck out twice, each after Pat Burrell walked. But at least he didn’t ground into a double play, right?

The strikeouts will come this spring for the Panda, as he works on getting taking more pitches and working deeper into the count.

That’s a challenge for Sandoval because, in the spring, pitchers focus on throwing strikes. So if Sandoval is taking, he’s falling behind. Even his home run came on an 0-2 pitch.

MORE HITTERS: Buster Posey continued to swing the bat well, hitting a single and double in three at-bats. Outfielder Cody Ross had two doubles in three at-bats.

CAIN BEING CAIN: Matt Cain continues to throw scoreless innings, even in the spring. Cain tossed 21 scoreless innings in the postseason last fall. On Sunday, he threw two more scoreless innings, giving up three hits and striking out one.

Any win over LA is a good win

It may have come on the second game of spring training, but any win over the hated Dodgers (is that redundant) is worth celebrating. The Giants spoiled the spring managerial debut of Don Mattingly with a 8-3 win on Saturday. Let’s see if we can spoil his regular-season debut on March 31.

beatLA.jpg

Again, it’s early. But Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was filled with some encouraging signs.

PANDA POWER: Pablo Sandoval slammed his first home run of the spring training. Given that one of the biggest pieces of Sandoval’s dissapointing 2010 season was his lack of power, this was an encouraging sign.

“When that happens, you get excited about what you do in the cage and all the work you do in the offseason,” Sandoval told the Associated Press.

Sandoval has been working on getting deeper into counts this spring. Yet his home run Saturday came on the first pitch from Oscar Villarreal in the fourth inning.

“He threw that same little cutter to (Aubrey) Huff and Andres (Torres),” Sandoval told the San Jose Mercury News. “I know sometimes I get in trouble when I swing at the first pitch. But I was looking for that pitch.”

That’s exactly what Sandoval should be doing on the first pitch — treat it like the count is 2-0. He should look for a particular pitch and a particular spot. If he doesn’t get that pitch, take it. If he does, hammer it. That’s what he did Saturday.

DEROSA IS RAKING: Mark DeRosa had three singles in three at-bats on Saturday, looking like the player the Giants hoped for when they signed him prior to the 2010 season. DeRosa missed most of 2010 after wrist surgery.

“(Fans) don’t care if you’re hurt,” DeRosa told the Mercury News. “They look for production and it wasn’t there. … Now I’m feeling good. I really do. I’m not having to cheat on fastballs, to do certain things to relieve the pain, to force-feed every pitch to right field.”

Again, encouraging.

STRIKES FOR SANCHEZ: When we last saw Jonathan Sanchez in the postseason last fall, he was struggling to find the plate on a consistent basis, and therefore struggling to get outs.

Throwing strikes is a focus for Sanchez this spring. And early signs Saturday were good.

Sanchez walked one in 1 2/3 innings of work, giving up no runs on four hits.

Numbers are Sandoval: 240 pounds

There was no tale of the tape, at least not from Pablo Sandoval.

After Sandoval promised to report his weight when he reported to camp, the Panda declined to share that info after stepping on the scales on Friday.

Pablo.jpgBut thankfully, the sports training company that oversaw his offseason regimen was willing talk. Go figure.

Trainer Ethan Banning of Triple Threat Performance told the San Jose Mercury News that Sandoval dropped 38 pounds during his offseason training.

So why wouldn’t the Panda want to discuss that? Well, it probably had to do with Sandoval’s listed playing weight last season. The Giants listed Sandoval at 5-11, 245 last season.

Banning reported that Sandoval weighed 278 when he began working with Triple Threat. Sandoval now weighs 240.


Associated Press photo

Teams often fudge on playing weights, which is probably why they instructed Sandoval not to discuss his weight publicly.

But as Bruce Bochy said, Sandoval clearly passed the eye test when he showed up in Scottsdale.

And Sandoval also showed some good decision-making when passed on new teammate Miguel Tejada’s offer to join his workout regimen and trainers. Sandoval said he’ll stick with Triple Threat.

Good call, Panda. And just say no to Miggy’s B12 vitamin injections.

Countdown to Spring Training: No. 10, Panda Watch

bigpanda.jpg
With pitchers and catches set to report to spring training in less than 10 days, MoreSplashHits is counting down on 10 things to consider as the Giants move toward their preparation for the 2011 season.

Starting out our countdown is Panda Watch 2011.

MLB.com’s Chris Haft caught up Pablo Sandoval at the Giants Fan Fest, and we learned some things about how the Panda spent his offseason.

To see the full story, click here. But we’ll share the highlights, plus MoreSplashHits’ reaction.

The Panda adopted a strict diet and workout regimen with Olympic decathlete Dan O’Brien.

MORESPLASHHITS: Sandoval wouldn’t say how much he lost in the offseason, just saying it was “a lot.” The final weigh-in will come when he reports to camp on Feb. 19.  We’ve heard reports that he’s lost anywhere from 15 to 25 pounds. And he certainly passed the eye test.

Sandoval also worked with Jose Alguacil, the Giants’ roving infield instructor, to improve his defense.

MORESPLASHHITS: This is a key point. When Sandoval spent most of the offseason on the bench, it wasn’t because of his bat. It was his glove. After starting Game 1 of the NLDS, Sandoval was replaced with the more sure-handed Mike Fontenot. Fontenot was eventually replaced with Edgar Renteria, who brought the right mix of defense and offense. So if The Panda can show that he is not a liability in the field, he’ll be in the lineup.

Sandoval also worked with Barry Bonds’ trainer.

MORESPLASHHITS: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Oh wait! It wasn’t THAT trainer. It was Greg Oliver, who (as far as we know) has never spent time in jail.

Oliver put Sandoval in touch with Bonds, who offered simple hitting advice: Look for a pitch that you could hit as if you were throwing a punch. That prompts Sandoval to use his hands.

MORESPLASHHITS: Any hitting advice Sandoval takes from Bonds is a bonus. But we wish Barry would have offered this advice: Look for a pitch … IN THE STRIKE ZONE! Sandoval ranked second in the majors at swinging at pitches out of the strike zone (Vladimir Guerrero was first). And that became a big problem for Sandoval in 2010. Pitchers learned that, so they wouldn’t throw strikes to Sandoval. They threw him high fastballs out of the strike zone, resulting in a higher ratio of fly ball outs and less power. And they threw him off-speed pitches down in the zone, resulting in weak ground balls, a lower batting average and 26 GIDPs. So here’s MoreSplashHits advice to The Panda: Approach the first pitch like you would if you ahead in the count 2-0. You wouldn’t swing at a pitcher’s pitch ahead 2-0. So don’t do it when the count is 0-0. Here’s a telling stat: When Sandoval got ahead of the count 1-0, he hit .312 with a .505 slugging percentage. When Sandoval got behind 0-1, he hit .195 with a .268 slugging pct. Another stat: when he swung at the first pitch and put it in play, he hit .370 with a .580 slugging pct. But he only put the first pitch in play 100 times. The other 146 times, he fell behind on the count 0-1. And we saw what happened then.  

Odds & ends: Kung Fu Panda delivers knockout blow

During the offseaon, Pablo Sandoval went to see his eye doctor and learned that he’s near-sided.

Since then, the Giants third baseman has debated between wearing prescription googles, contacts or nothing at all.

Perhaps that’s why he hasn’t look right yet this season. Or maybe he’s just been pressing.

Whatever it was, it seems to be a thing of the past after Sandoval hit the ball hard three times Sunday in a 6-3 win over the Braves.

“This was the starting point,” Sandoval told reporters afterwards. “This is the point to turn it around and help the team.”

Even though Sandoval entered Sunday’s game with a .290 average. He only had one RBI, and that came on a groundout. Many of Sandoval’s hits this season came a bloopers, infield hits or soft liners. Not so on Sunday.

First was a two-out triple to right-center in the fourth that led to the Giants’ first run. Then came a sharp single to left that led to the Giants’ second run. And finally came a mammoth homer to right-center that put the Giants up 5-2 in the eighth.

“Even Pablo will get out of sync occasionally,” manager Bruce Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. “But even then, he finds a way to get hits.”

Barry speaks

Members of the 2000 San Francisco Giants team showed up at AT&T Park on Sunday, but didn’t get to take part in the planned pre-game ceremonies because of the rain delay.

But we did learn some things about the members of that team.

A member of that team said Sunday he used steroids. And a member of that team says he’s retiring from baseball.

Of course, neither one of those statements was made by Barry Bonds.

What Barry did say is that he is proud of Mark McGwire for his admission of steroid use. Bonds also says he likes offering batting advice to younger players.

Bonds said the he’s had a good friendship with McGwire over the years, “and I’m proud of what he did, and I’m happy for him.”

Bonds also spent a few days last winter offering hitting advice to the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. He said he enjoys coaching and would like to do more of it in the future. However, it seems that coaching would be on a free-lance basis, so don’t expect Barry to replace Hensley Meulens as the Giants hitting coach.

But maybe the Giants could hire Bonds to teach Giants hitters not to swing at 2-0 pitches out of the strike zone.

That is, if they don’t sign Bonds as a free agent. Officially, he has not retired from baseball, even though he hasn’t played since 2007. His lack of retirement could be linked to a potential grievance of collusion against Major League Baseball for keeping out of the game.

One ex-Giant who did announce his retirement was Rich Aurilia. Aurilia, now a Giants broadcaster, said he contact club president Larry Baer to state his intention to retire.

One ex-Giant who admitted to steroid use was Marvin Benard, who said he used the drug to help him recover from a knee injury

More Posey news

Buster Posey went 2 for 5 with three runs scored and his first home run of the season in the Fresno Grizzlies’ 14-2 win over the Reno Aces on Sunday.

Posey is now 9 for 18 for the season.

Also on Sunday, Fred Lewis went 2 for 3 with two walks for Fresno, and Joe Martinez pitched five scoreless innings for the win.

Pirates come to town on Monday

The Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series with the Giants on Monday at AT&T Park. Here’s a look at the pitching matchups

  • Ross Ohlendorf (0-0) vs. Barry Zito (1-0), 7:15 p.m. Monday
  • Paul Maholm (0-1) vs. Matt Cain (0-0), 7:15 p.m. Tuesday
  • Charlie Morton (0-1) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (0-0), 12:45 p.m. Wednesday
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 305 other followers