EXTRA BAGGS: Sandoval sends 'em home happy


EXTRA BAGGS: Sandoval sends 'em home happy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Pablo Sandoval hasnt made a ton of loudcontact this spring. But he sent the ballpark home with a mighty kaboom Mondayafternoon.

In one of the best signs for the Giants all spring, Sandovalbattled the count full before crushing a breaking pitch from Greg Holland that strucklike an arrow onto the berm in right-center field.

Sandoval raised an arm as he rounded the bases and theScottsdale Stadium crowd got as loud as Ive ever heard it. The shot gave the Giants a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

You know, its my second one, said an obviously prideful Panda, recalling a walk-off in 2009 against the Washington Nationals. So my second one feels great.

Even better than the result was the method behind it.Sandoval had to recoil out of the box at least twice on wildly high, upper-90sfastballs. Justin Christian stole second base one of those pitches, and tookthird when the catchers throw bounced into center field.

With the count full, Sandoval noted that Holland shook off.He deduced the rest.

I wait for one pitch, said Sandoval, who was sitting on abreaking ball. If he throws fastball right there, he strikes me out.

Holland is not a nameless No.87 in Royals camp, either. Hehad a 1.80 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 60 innings for Kansas City last season and isa candidate to close now that Joakim Soria is hurt.

RELATED: Cortisone shot for Sanchez's troublesome shoulder

David Schoenfield of ESPN recently wrote that Holland wasmurder on lefties last season. He faced 106 of them and struck out 38 thesecond best percentage of whiffs among AL pitchers. Left-handed hitters were 4for 60 (.067) when Holland had two strikes against them last season.

So all things considered, Sandoval should feel very goodabout that at-bat. It might be a springboard as he gets ready to help drive themiddle of the Giants lineup beginning in 11 days.

Sandoval said his extra conditioning work hasnt dragged himdown this spring. Its just taken a little longer to find his stroke after notplaying winter ball in Venezuela.

Now Im getting my foot down, he said. I got my rhythm. Ifeel great at home plate. So, no complaints.

Its turning into one of those springs for Ryan Theriot. Hehasnt looked too dependable with the glove, and after leaving Mondays game,lets hope he didnt have any expensive family portraits scheduled in the near term.

Theriot tried a snap tag on a pickoff play and it backfiredin a bad way. The ball glanced off his glove, hit the runner and ricochetedright off Theriots nose. He was bleeding profusely, in manager Bruce Bochysdescription, but X-rays ruled out a fracture.

Theriot had been day-to-day with a mild ankle injury. Hescome up in trade rumors, too. Do they have voodoo dolls down on the Bayou?

In just four days, the other three-quarters of Theriots1.25 million salary will become guaranteed if hes still on the roster. Whilethe Giants are looking at trade possibilities, I do think Theriot is seen as a fit on the roster. Hes a tough out in the late innings, and other than BrettPill, the Giants dont have many right-handed threats for the bench.

Its mentioned in other posts, but in case you missed it:

Buster Posey will start Tuesday and catch Tim Lincecumagainst the Angels (and presumably, Albert Pujols). Itll be the first time Posey goes back-to-back behind theplate this spring. He and Lincecum havent worked together since last May, soBochy felt it was important to pick this spot to test Poseys ankle.

RELATED: Posey deemed ready for back-to-back duty behind plate

Brian Wilson is on the schedule to throw an inningWednesday. Its possible he could go Thursday, too. But that hasnt beendecided yet.

Ryan Vogelsong will start again on Saturday. The Giants sayhell start the Cactus League exhibition against the Reds. But dont bet on it.If he starts that day, they couldnt backdate his DL stint any earlier thanApril 1. That would make him eligible to be activated on April 16 and the clubneeds a No.5 starter on April 15. So expect Vogelsong to throw his 50 pitchesin a minor league game.

And Freddy Sanchez? After a cortisone shot in his shoulder, it's anyone's guess.

Helped his cause Monday: Joaquin Arias. He was 2 for 2 andcollected the tying single. Hes the only person besides Brandon Crawford thatIve seen this spring and would trust putting at shortstop.

Hurt his cause Monday: Nate Schierholtz dropped a very catchableball on the warning track in right field. It was scored a double, leading tothe only run that Vogelsong allowed. Then Schierholtz struck out with two outsand the bases loaded in the bottom o the first. Yee-owch.

Expect more minor league camp activity or Angel Pagan. Heshitting .176 after going 0 for 4. Pagan did make a nice, diving catch in centerfield, though.

I dont think Pagan can lose the everyday center field jobwith a bad spring. The Giants acquired him to be that guy, and you dont flipthat script based on a few good (albeit very, very impressive) weeks out ofGregor Blanco.

Heres another thing to consider: Managers manage people,not just games. In Pagans case, hes a free agent at the end of the season.Thats a good thing for the Giants because you can count on guys in thatsituation to be hungry and motivated all year long.

But if you take away that guys opportunity based on a badspring, you risk losing him completely. Hell stew all year, thinking youretaking money out of his pocket. So Pagan has to be given a shot to provehimself in the regular season, and be the player the Giants envisioned whenthey acquired him.

My guess: If Blanco takes away at-bats from anyone in the early going, it'd be Schierholtz. That could be especially true if Pagan struggles in the leadoff spot. The Giants could hit him down in the order in an effort to get him going, and bat Blanco in the No.1 spot.

There are four non-roster guys remaining in camp: Arias,Blanco, Justin Christian and Jean Machi. A Final Four, if you will.

Another reason to feel good about Vogelsongs outing Monday:He made a nice team with Posey. I didnt realize it till I looked it up, butVogelsong made 28 starts last year. Posey was behind the plate for just threeof them.

Well, you can pencil in your pitching matchups for theseason-opening series at Chase Field. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson announced hisarrangement on Monday. Itll be Lincecum and Ian Kennedy on April 6, followedby Madison Bumgarner vs. Daniel Hudson and Matt Cain vs. Josh Collmener.

Verrrry interesting that Arizona is not pitching TrevorCahill in the opening series.

Well, my Macbook Pro adapter turned volcanically hot andstopped working so I had to go to the Apple store this morning. The good news:I didnt have to pay for a replacement. The bad news: I broke down and made a veryexpensive impulse purchase. Now I just need to figure out what the kids aredoing with these iPads.

You will not find a nicer, more thoughtful person thanTriple-A Fresno announcer Doug Greenwald. One of the best parts of springtraining is being able to interact with Doug every day and hearing him

In his spare time, Doug enjoys traveling and taking photosof post offices around the country, and yes, you read that correctly.

This morning, he posted the following on Twitter: Watchingthe Weather Channel now. Great channel, love knowing the weather in theDakotas. Seriously, love it.

If anything ever happens to the Dos Equis guy, I hereby nominateDoug Greenwald to take his place.

José Altuve is the first since Buster Posey to do this in a season


José Altuve is the first since Buster Posey to do this in a season

The Astros and Giants had seemingly opposite seasons in 2017. While the Astros won their first World Series title in franchise history, the Giants put together a historically bad season with a 64-98 record. 

Of all the Astros, José Altuve enjoyed the greatest season of them all. And one Giant can relate to the 5-foot-6 slugger. 

Altuve became just the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to win a batting title, MVP and World Series all in the same year. The last to do so was Buster Posey in 2012, the second of his three titles with the Giants.

In 2012, Posey hit .336 to win the batting title. He then received 422 voting points to edge out Ryan Braun (285) to win the National League MVP. 

Altuve hit 10 points higher than Posey at .346 to win the 2017 batting title. But, Altuve received less voting points (405) than Posey to beat rookie Aaron Judge (279). 

Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017


Awards season reminds us how far Giants fell in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — It was revealed Thursday night that Giancarlo Stanton is this year’s National League Most Valuable Player. The rest of the MVP ballot shows why the Giants are chasing Stanton so hard this offseason. 

Led by Stanton, 22 different players were listed on NL MVP ballots, which have 10 spots. Two of the top five finishers — Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon — were Rockies. Four different Diamondbacks got votes, led by third-place finisher Paul Goldschmidt. The Dodgers had five players listed on ballots, including rookie Cody Bellinger, who arrived a couple of days after Christian Arroyo and finished ninth in MVP voting. 

The Giants? They didn't have a single player receive an MVP vote, continuing a theme during awards season. 

The team built around pitching did not have any players listed on the five-person Cy Young Award ballots (full disclosure: I had a vote). There were no Rookie of the Year candidates, either, and Bruce Bochy was out of the Manager of the Year running sometime in early May. The 2017 season was the first since 2007 in which the Giants didn’t have a single player listed for any of the four major awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. 

The lack of award-season love is a reminder of how deep the hole is, but it’s also a sign of how much help the Giants need from their stars in order to dig out of this hole. This isn’t as simple as fixing the center field defense and upgrading the bullpen. 

Buster Posey had a good season, but his 12 homers, 67 RBI, .861 OPS and 4.3 WAR (ranked 17th in the NL) didn’t get any love at the end of a 98-loss year. Posey had been listed on at least one MVP ballot every season since 2012, when he won the award. This is the first year since 2007 that the Giants did not have a player listed on an MVP ballot. 

The organization has had similar success in the Cy Young balloting, with Tim Lincecum winning twice and Madison Bumgarner finishing in the top 10 in each of the previous four seasons. A dirt bike accident cost Bumgarner any shot of getting votes this year, and also likely cost him a third Silver Slugger Award in a season that started with two homers on Opening Day. Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto finished fourth and sixth in the Cy Young voting last season, but Cueto had a similarly forgettable season.