Sandoval to join San Jose; Mijares en route


Sandoval to join San Jose; Mijares en route

ST. LOUIS -- Pablo Sandoval's hamstring continues to respond well to increased activity, but the Giants plan to send him for a rehab game or two at Single-A San Jose before reinstating him from the disabled list.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval would play "a game or two" for San Jose, likely Friday and Saturday, and could be activated by Sunday if all goes well. He's eligible to come off the DL on Thursday but still hasn't run the bases.

"I'm OK with that," said Sandoval, who estimated his hamsting was at 90 percent as he ran sprints Tuesday at Busch Stadium. "Today was a good day. I put pressure on the hamstring for the first time. It was a good step."

Sandoval is scheduled to run bases on Wednesday. When he returns, the Giants should have a productive middle of the lineup, on paper at least, as they combine Melky Cabrera, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Sandoval for the first time.

Bochy said he hasn't decided whether Sandoval would hit in front of Pence or behind him when the Panda returns.

"I'm excited to be back in the lineup," said Sandoval, acknowledging it hasn't been easy to get his timing because of so much time spent on the DL this season. "I've been watching video from last year, from moments I was (in a hot streak). That helps me."

Sandoval said his brother, Michael, made sure to send him a freeze frame picture of the play when he injured the hamstring, when he did the splits at first base. Had he ever done the splits before?

"Oh yeah, I know I can do that," he said. "I did the splits before. But it was cold weather."

In other pregame news, left-hander Jose Mijares is on his way to St. Louis and his flight was expected to land at 8 p.m. If he isn't delayed, Bochy said the club plans to clear a space on the active roster and add Mijares prior to the first pitch. If so, he'd be eligible to take the mound.

Shane Loux is one candidate to be sent out to make room for Mijares. Amid his three-run eighth inning Monday night, a fan in center field pointed a green laser pointer at him. The Cardinals' Matt Holliday noticed it and called for time. Eventually, the prankster shined his laser on Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who directed security to have him taken into custody. Loux said he had no idea what was happening until the inning had ended.

No, there won't ever be "laser pointer night" at a major league game.

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. 

Altuve, Stanton named MVPs


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.