SAN FRANCISCO There is no underestimating the importanceof health.
Just look at where Buster Posey stood exactly one year ago(he had just begun to stand on his reconstructed left ankle, actually), andwhere he stands now.
As the Giants enter the final two weeks of the regularseason, they are mostly healthy and getting healthier. Gregor Blanco is back inleft field, Xavier Nady will start Thursdays series finale against Rockieslefty Jorge De La Rosa and Giants manager Bruce Bochy has a full complement inhis bullpen.
That includes Sergio Romo, which is an important point --both because of his importance as a late-inning presence, and because theGiants have taken great care to coax the undersized right-hander through eachof the three previous seasons.
Romos slider is rough on his elbow, which is one of thereasons that Bochy didnt consider him a first option when closer Brian Wilsonwent down in the first week of the season. Santiago Casilla handled the jobwell throughout the first half.
But now Romo is getting longer looks, hes holding up well,and guess what? Hes more than just a right-handed specialist.
Romo is holding right-handers to a .190 average. Hesholding lefties to a .191 average.
Hes given up four homers in 137 at-bats to right-handedhitters and just one in 47 at-bats against lefties.
So between that effectiveness against lefties, and Romoselbow holding firm, Bochy has not hesitated to use him for a piece in theeighth and then bring him back to (hopefully) work a clean inning in the ninth.
Bochy also hasnt shied away from using Romo in non-savesituations, just to make sure the opposing team doesnt start a blaze thatcant be put out.
Were in a situation where were trying to win every gamewe can, Bochy said. And hes doing well.
Romo already has thrown more innings than last year and willmatch his 2011 total for games with his next appearance. Hes four away frommatching his career high of 68, set in 2010.
Resiliency is never more important than in the postseason,which is why Bochy has a sense of urgency to wrap up this division. Aside fromthe obvious preference to clinch in front of the home folks, it would give theGiants a week-long road trip to run Romo and the rest of the relievers like pacecars and get them ready for the postseason.
Pablo Sandoval told USA Todays Jorge Ortiz that he isplanning to play a month of winter ball for Magallanes in Venezuela and thentake part in the World Baseball Classic next spring.
In the past, the Giants have asked Sandoval to limit hiswinter ball exposure so that he could focus on strength training and weightloss with his trainers at Triple Threat Performance in Arizona. Im told theclub will insist that Sandoval adhere to a similar program, regardless of how muchhe plays or how much time he spends back home this winter.
Marco Scutaro will match his career high of 174 hits withhis next safety. He has 71 hits in 49 games as a Giant, which is juststaggering. And hes third in the NL in the hits department, a couple ahead ofRyan Braun. That is also staggering.
The Dodgers already lost Game 1 at Washington. Magic numberdown to six, with the potential to get down to four by the close of businesstonight.
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In case you didnt see it, Commissioner Bud Selig was askedabout Melky Cabrera and the batting title and said he had no plans to doanything about it.
RELATED: MLB unlikely to bar Cabrera from batting title
No surprise there. Last time I checked, Pete Rose is theall-time hits king, Barry Bonds is the all-time home run king, and the onlytime a commissioner affixed an asterisk to a record, it was when Roger Marispassed Babe Ruths single-season homer mark in 1961. And that looks a bitfoolish in retrospect, doesnt it?
Cabrera will win the batting title because its not atrophy. Its not voted upon. Its purely driven by the numbers, and suspensionor no suspension, that .346 average will be on the back of his baseball card. Byrule, Cabrera will have one at-bat added so that he has enough plateappearances to qualify.
There is no changing that rule in the middle of a season,but in the future, perhaps it will be amended to keep suspended players frombeing eligible to received added at-bats. The players and owners already agreedto a similar rule last winter that disallowed a player from being named to theAll-Star team in any year in which he is disciplined for a failed drug test.(Which is rather ironic, since Im told Cabrera tested positive fortestosterone before the All-Star Game, and was still allowed to compete becausehis appeal was pending. Thats right: Bud Selig handed the All-Star MVP trophyto a guy he knew full well had tested positive for a performance enhancer.)
Anyway, my point is this:
Statistics are objective. Value judgments are subjective.Theyre better off kept as separate as church and state.
At least Selig isn't wasting time making sure Buster Posey isn't wearing a 49ers hat.