Giants

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.

Altuve, Stanton named MVPs

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AP

Altuve, Stanton named MVPs

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve won the American League MVP award on Thursday, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Altuve was the second Houston player to win an MVP — Jeff Bagwell earned the 1994 NL award.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team.

Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs. His highlight-reel homer total was the most in the majors since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit a record 73 and Sammy Sosa had 64.

Stanton got 10 first-place votes and 302 points. Votto, who led the majors with a .454 on-base percentage, also got 10 firsts and had 300 points. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt was third.

The last time an MVP race was so close, Willie Stargell and Keith Hernandez tied for the NL prize in 1979. Stanton became the first Marlins player to win the award.

The Marlins went 77-85 this season, and new team executive Derek Jeter says the club is listening to trade offers for Stanton. The 28-year-old outfielder is owed $295 million over the final decade of his record $325 million, 13-year contract.

Giants helped facilitate Meulens' interview with Yankees

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AP

Giants helped facilitate Meulens' interview with Yankees

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants moved Hensley Meulens to bench coach last month in part so that their former hitting coach could prepare for a future as a manager. The front office helped Meulens make that push in other ways, too. 

Because he is under contract with the Giants, Meulens is technically not allowed to throw himself into the running for open managerial jobs, but on a conference call with reporters Thursday, he said the Giants organization helped set him up to interview for the open Yankees job. Meulens met with Yankees management on Thursday in New York in a bid to be named the replacement for Joe Girardi. 

“The Giants want to see a few of us in managing situations,” Meulens said, noting that the same has been done for Ron Wotus. “The organization found a way to let people know we’re available or interested.”

For Meulens, Thursday morning's interview was a dream come true. He broke into baseball with the Yankees and said the organization taught him what it means to be a winner. To prepare for the interview, he turned to friends around the game who are familiar with coming out on top, especially in heated battles for the limited managerial jobs in Major League Baseball. Meulens said he talked to current managers Don Mattingly, Dave Roberts, Jeff Bannister and Torey Lovullo about the best way to prepare for such an important interview, and he also reached out to longtime manager Dusty Baker. 

Meulens got a dry run of sorts earlier in the offseason. He said he interviewed for the Detroit Tigers job when it became available, and his conference call with Yankees reporters showed that he was certainly well prepared for one of the most pressure-packed jobs in sports. Meulens repeatedly hammered home the fact that communication is a strength of his. Girardi was reportedly let go in part because his rapport with players was considered to be a weakness. 

“I’m somebody that’s ready to take the challenge and bring new positive energy on a daily basis, and also connect with everybody on the roster,” Meulens said. 

Meulens expanded on his past work with Yankee Didi Gregorius, a fellow native of Curacao, and he mentioned the Giants several times. In discussing his work with Gregorius during the World Baseball Classic, he compared him to Brandon Crawford, who made similar swing changes to improve against left-handed pitchers. When asked what separates him from other candidates, Meulens repeatedly noted his long history with winning, from his four minor league titles with the Yankees to his three rings with his current employer. 

“I was groomed to be a winner,” Meulens said. “All my career, I’ve won a bunch, and that never changes. Every day I put on my uniform, I come to the park to win the ballgame. Nothing against (any of the other candidates), but I have a drive for that.”