Giants

EXTRA BAGGS: Villalona optioned to Single-A, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Villalona optioned to Single-A, etc.

MESA, Ariz. Angel Villalona still doesnt have his workvisa to travel to the United States. If and when he arrives, hell find alocker waiting for him in minor league camp.

The Giants optioned Villalona to Single-A San Jose onFriday, which is more or less a procedural move. Even if he had been able toreport three weeks ago as scheduled, the Giants had planned to keep him inextended spring training while he works himself back into baseball shape.

Its anyones guess when (or if) the U.S. Consulate willclear the slugging first baseman to restart his pro career. He hasnt played a game since 2009,when he was given leave to return to the Dominican and was charged in the fatalshooting of Mario Felix de Jesus Velete in a bar in his hometownof La Romana.

The charges were dropped late last year,although Villalona reportedly paid a settlement to the victims family.

The Giants gave Villalona a 2.1 millionbonus as a 16-year-old in 2006.

Villalonas visa is being held up because he hasntdemonstrated his physical fitness to qualify as an elite athlete, according to what the Giants have been told. Its a hangup the club hasnt experienced before, and they've dealt with thousands of these applications.

My rather obvious speculation: The U.S. Consulate wants tojustify keeping a suspected murderer from entering the country, and this is howtheyre doing it.

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Sergio Romo didn't pitch Friday and he isn't on the list to pitch in either split squad Saturday. Manager Bruce Bochy told the Chronicle's John Shea that Romo's elbow is "a little cranky," but not believed to be a major deal.

Romo deals with elbow soreness almost every spring. At this stage, he'll need to bounce back quickly, though.

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You know your team wont have a good year when the springtraining program features the general manager on the cover. I guess the Cubsshould be used to it, though.

The Giants beat them 3-2 in a rather tidy afternoon affairat Ho Ho Kam Park, and Gregor Blanco is really slacking off. He was 0-for-3,dropping his average to .438.

RECAP: Surkamp goes four, Giants top Cubs 3-2

All kidding aside, Blanco does something every day to getnoticed. This time, it was a stomach-sliding catch on a sinking line drive incenter field.

Hes had quite a spring, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Hes opened up everybodys eyes.

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Nice game for Eli Whiteside after he replaced Buster Poseyto start the bottom of the sixth. Whiteside hosed both Starlin Castro andAnthony Rizzo trying to steal third base.

BAGGARLY: Posey pleased after catching five, running bases

Whiteside has to show that his elbow is improved and hesthrowing better to bases in order to win the backup catcher competition withChris Stewart.

Why the Cubs were trying to steal third base twice whiletrailing by a run, I couldnt tell you. Maybe ask the GM.

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Emmanuel Burriss stole a base and was caught stealing once,although it really shouldnt have been scored that way. He tried to advance ona ball that got away from the catcher. By rule, he wasnt trying to steal butadvance.

No matter. The Giants lead the majors with 20 stolen basesthis spring. Theyve also been caught 13 times.

This is an area where Mr. Dwight Randolph Winn might be ofmajor assistance. Hes in camp as a special instructor and loving it. He toldme just putting the uniform on again is a thrill, and working with minorleaguers has been a great experience.

Winn always ran well during his playing career, but itwasnt until his later years that he turned into one of the most efficientbaserunners in the game. He was 25 for 27 in 2008. The following year, he was16 for 18. Even in 2010, when he struggled for the Yankees and Cardinals, heswiped six bases without getting nabbed.

Plus, hey, hes Randy Winn. They dont make them anyclassier.

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If not for Blancos catch, Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huffwouldve had the best defensive play of the game. Sandoval charged a slowroller and Huff made an expert pick of a wide, skipping throw. The Cubs had arunner on third base and two outs, so the play certainly saved a run.

Sandoval showed off some pretty impressive wheels whilescoring from second base on Huffs whistling single to left field, too. Theball was hit hard and reached the left fielder quickly, yet Sandoval still slidinto the plate well ahead of the balls arrival.

No, these do not look like your 2011 Giants.

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If you missed my announcement on Twitter earlier today, Imnow allowed to reveal that I achieved a lifelong goal of appearing as acontestant on Jeopardy! (Which explains my absence earlier this week.) Myepisode will air on July 20.

I cant tell you any more than that, except it went by in ablur and Ive never been so nervous in my life. And at least from what Iremember, it was a lot of fun.

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

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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.

One week 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

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USATSI

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.