Bochy makes passionate defense of Pence, etc.


Bochy makes passionate defense of Pence, etc.

Programming note: Tune into Comcast SportsNet Bay Area after the final out of tonight's Game 4 for Giants October Quest, with highlights and reaction from St. Louis!

ST. LOUIS Everybody needs a motivational talk sometimes.Even motivational speakers.

So Giants manager Bruce Bochy took aside Hunter Pence, whohasnt driven in a run in eight postseason games and called himself the goatafter stranding five runners in the 3-1 loss in Game 3 Wednesday night.

Bochy dropped Pence in the order, from fifth to sixth. He said it never entered his mind to drop Pence entirely.

Instead, Bochy flip-flopped the middle of his order, moving Buster Posey up to third and entrusting Pablo Sandoval with Pence's former duty -- makingsure the NL batting champ would get pitches to hit.

Hector Sanchez is hitting fifth; Posey is playing first base,replacing Brandon Belt in the lineup.

Xavier Nady has a .391 career average against Cardinalsright-hander Adam Wainwright, but Bochy did not consider starting him. The manager iscasting his lot with Pence, who drove in over 100 runs in the regular seasonand fires up his teammates with passionate speeches amid a high school huddleprior to every playoff game.

And heres why:

Certain players, I believe, you need in the lineup, Bochysaid. I believe you need them for their energy and for how much theirteammates respect them and how they play the game. I dont believe, except on therare occasion, you sit a player like that unless hes absolutely lost.

If you have an everyday player who gives you everything hesgot and you know how much he means to a club, then I think he should be outthere.

You can debate whether Pence and absolutely lost belongin the same sentence. If that's your contention, youd have some evidence based on his at-bats and theway hes tapping out on one outside slider after another.

But Bochy said he likes the way Pence is staying aggressiveand not cheating himself with his swings.

Those guys are dangerous hitters because they may expandthe zone, but they also can hit a pitch out of the zone, Bochy said. I alsolook at the makeup of a player and how they carry themselves. To me, that meansa lot.

Hes taking his swings. Now, if you have a player whosfrozen up there, or caught in between, thats more of a concern. If youregoing to go down, go down swinging. Thats the typeof player he is.

Bochy did not mention Belts name, but you couldn't miss the inference. Belt struck out lookingand shook his head at the umpire after taking a borderline pitch in the seventhinning to strand two runners. Pence proceeded him by going down swinging.

Its possible likely, even that Sanchez will startbehind the plate in Game 5, too, when Barry Zito takes the mound. Both Zito hasthrown to Sanchez almost exclusively this season; Game 4 starter Lincecum and Posey have beenbatterymates only a few times since the All-Star break.

Well see how it goes tonight, Bochy said.

Madison Bumgarner is in Lincecum's former long relief role, beginning now. Bochy said Bumgarner is "in a good place" after a couple of bullpen sessions. It's hard to imagine we'll see the same pitcher until he gets an offseason to rest and recharge, though.

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

MiLB/Sacramento River Cats

Good news, bad news for Chris Shaw's first week in the Arizona Fall League

Every time the Journey song “Lights” plays throughout AT&T Park, the lyrics When the lights go down in the City ring too true for the Giants’ offense. There’s a power outage in San Francisco. 

The savior to this issue can soon be prospect Chris Shaw, who turns 24 years old on Oct. 20. Shaw, along with five other Giants prospects, is continuing his 2017 season among a multitude of baseball’s best young up-and-comers in the Arizona Fall League. As he takes the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Shaw’s bat is far from the top focus for the Giants. 

After playing right and left field at Boston College, the Giants turned Shaw into a first baseman once they selected the 6-foot-4, 235-pound lefty in 2015. This year, the Giants’ front office decided to make a change. As the big league team continued to look for their own answers, Shaw saw himself in left field in 94 of the 125 games he played between Double-A and Triple-A this season. 

“I saw improvements through the course of the year,” Brian Sabean said about Shaw’s outfield defense on The Giants Insider Podcast. “The problem is playing left field in our left field isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do.” 

The AFL is all about reps in left field for Shaw as the Giants have already said he will get a long look in spring training. He earned that right after a breakout year at the plate.

One week into the AFL though, Shaw’s bat is way behind. Through four games, Shaw is batting a pedestrian .133 (2-for-15), both hits being singles. But even in such a slow start there are positives. 

Shaw has walked three times to only two strikeouts. His only downfall at the plate once he reached Triple-A Sacramento was his on-base percentage fell from .390 in Double-A to .328 at the higher level. With the River Cats, Shaw struck out 106 times, leading the team, while taking his base 20 times.

Early on in the desert, Shaw is showing more patience and putting the ball into play more often. The ball simply isn’t finding grass.

In the outfield, every ball Shaw sees -- practice or game -- during the AFL is a step in the right direction for he and the Giants. He is yet to make an error in his short time at the AFL. The big lefty will never be a guy to make the spectacular play, but if he improves his instincts with the glove and improves his eye at the plate, the Giants can finally have their left fielder of the future. 

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster

LOS ANGELES — Shortstop Corey Seager has been left off the Los Angeles Dodgers' roster for the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers announced Seager's surprise omission due to a back injury on Saturday, several hours before Game 1 at Dodger Stadium.

Los Angeles also dropped reliever Pedro Baez from its roster. Infielder Charlie Culberson and outfielder Joc Pederson were added.

Chicago made only one change from the last playoff round, adding reliever Hector Rondon and removing reliever Justin Wilson.

Seager complained of back soreness during the Dodgers' NL Division Series clincher in Arizona on Monday, and 2016 NL Rookie of the Year didn't participate in team workouts this week. Still, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that he was very optimistic that Seager would play in the NLCS.

Seager was an All-Star selection this season while batting .295 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs as a key part of the top of the Dodgers' lineup.

Kike Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Culberson all worked out at shortstop Friday for the Dodgers. The versatile Taylor was the Dodgers' center fielder during the NLDS, but he made 96 appearances in the outfield this season and 44 in the infield, including 14 games at shortstop.

Pederson is batting .071 with no homers since July, but the Dodgers could need him in center field if Taylor plays shortstop.

Culberson famously homered to clinch the Dodgers' NL West title in announcer Vin Scully's final home game last season, but the infielder spent most of this season at Triple-A, appearing in only 14 games for the Dodgers.

Rondon was the Cubs' closer in 2014 and 2015, but moved to a setup role last season after Aroldis Chapman's arrival. He appeared in 61 regular-season games this year, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA in an up-and-down campaign.

Chicago acquired Wilson in a trade with Detroit on July 31, adding a veteran left-handed reliever who had 13 saves for the Tigers this season. The Southern California native wasn't great in his two months with the Cubs, posting a 5.09 ERA with 19 walks in 23 appearances.

Manager Joe Maddon chose Wilson for the NLDS over Rondon, only to switch it up against the Dodgers.