Giants

Turning two still a major concern for Sanchez

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Turning two still a major concern for Sanchez

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. In a sobering acknowledgment, secondbaseman Freddy Sanchez said his repaired right shoulder would be an ongoingconcern all season.

And the Giants are already making tweaks to their infielddefense to accommodate it.

Ill have my ups and downs, said Sanchez on Thursday,after taking full infield practice including relays and cutoff throws forthe first time this spring. Thats just how its going to be all year. Therewill be tightness and soreness. Thats just part of the process.

The Giants are planning around it. Manager Bruce Bochy saidthe infield would adjust its alignment, shifting shortstop Brandon Crawford tobe the cutoff man on throws not just to left field or center, but also toright-center field.

REWIND: Sanchez ramps up throwing to prepare for return

Bochy also challenged Sanchez to be less tentative when hetakes infield again on Friday.

I was honest with him, Bochy said. I thought he was alittle hesitant, which he appreciated. He knows he wasnt quite 100 percent.But he felt good and he made the pivot, which is (a hurdle) he had to jump.Its like Buster (Posey, and his ankle). Its a matter of going out and doingit, and finding out, Hey, Im OK.

Bochy said itd be nice to start Sanchez at second base inone of Saturdays split-squad games. The manager later hedged that statement,saying he would put it at 5050 whether Sanchez makes his debut in the fieldon that date.

What does Bochy want to see?

The strength, the good, free movement, Bochy said. He wasthrowing, but not like he normally does. I just want to see Freddy (closer) towhere he normally throws. Today, he made the throws. But hell tell you hesnot quite ready.

Sanchez said he did not think he was being overly cautious,but he found Bochys critique constructive.

I was glad he told me that, Sanchez said. When otherpeople see it, its good to hear. Because once that hesitancy is gone, itll bea great sign. The more reps, the better, the easier it will be.

Sanchez disclocated his shoulder while diving for a ground ballon June 10 and had surgery in August to stabilize the capsule. He and theGiants knew all through his rehab that turning the pivot and throwing acrosshis body would be the biggest test in the spring.

For a team built on pitching and defense, Sanchezscompromised shoulder looms as a significant issue.

I need to get more on the ball, he said. Thats going totake time. Ive got to use my legs more than my arm to get something on theball.

Definitely, for the first time taking infield, its goingto take some time to get over the initial feel of it. It was a good start towork on my footwork as I make throws all the way to first.

Would the Giants consider practicing trick plays whenSanchez has to glove a ball up the middle, perhaps flipping to Crawford to makethe throw to first base?

Naw, Bochy said. If we start getting tricky, were introuble here.

But Sanchez said he wouldnt have an problem yielding toCrawford on more cutoff plays.

That can be done easily, Sanchez said.

In the meantime, Sanchez is trying to get his timing back atthe plate. He made his spring debut at DH last Friday and hit in that slotagain Thursday night. He also picked up five at-bats in minor league camp onWednesday, but he isnt squaring up the ball yet.

The long-term concern isnt Sanchezs bat, but his arm.

The more I throw, the stronger I get, he said. But if Itake a real aggressive (day), itll be sore regardless. The last couple daysits been great.

If Sanchez goes down or sustains a setback, the Giants would turn to Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theriot or Emmanuel Burriss. Brett Pill spent time at second base at Triple-A Fresno last season, but is considered a candidate to play there only in emergency situations.

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

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AP

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue to wait for a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton chase, they may soon find themselves bidding on another superstar talent they have long coveted. 

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreed to a new posting system that should allow Shohei Ohtani to be made available in about 10 days. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that MLB owners must ratify the agreement next Friday and Ohtani would then be posted that day or the following day. 

The Giants have made no secret of their desire to jump feet-first into that process, and general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley visited Japan in September to scout Ohtani, a potential two-way star. Ohtani wants to be a starter and a hitter in the big leagues, as he was in Japan, and after watching tape of the 23-year-old, Bruce Bochy said he would be on board. 

"He's good," Bochy said after a game at Dodger Stadium late in the season. "I absolutely would play him every day."

There has been little clarity over the past two months as MLB teams have waited for the negotiations to play out. Per Sherman, there will be new posting rules in future years but Ohtani will operate under the old system. That limits the Giants to a $300,000 bonus because they went over their spending limit in 2015, but club officials don't believe that will disqualify them. Very little is known about Ohtani's preferences, but by coming to the United States in 2017, he is potentially forfeiting a $200 million deal as a free agent. That alone is enough to validate the fact that the Giants can safely chase Ohtani, knowing that the signing bonus won't be a deal breaker.

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

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AP

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

ATLANTA -- The Braves lost 13 prospects and former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-17.

Former Atlanta special assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, was suspended from baseball for one year by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Sanctions imposed by Manfred will leave the Braves unable to bargain at full strength for a top Latin American prospect until 2021.

Manfred said MLB's investigation determined the Braves moved international signing bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

Three more international signees - Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre - were declared free agents. The team's contract with prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, which was not yet final, was disapproved. Finally, the Braves were banned from signing prospect Robert Puason in the 2019-20 signing period.

The 13 players will be free to negotiate as free agents with other teams.

Also, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 draft as punishment for offering "impermissible benefits" to an unnamed draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

The investigation showed the players signed by the Braves in 2016-17 would have been unavailable if the team had not circumvented the rules by moving bonus pool money.

Manfred said stripping the Braves of the 13 players was not sufficient punishment. He said "additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the club for the violations committed by its employees."

Therefore, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period. Also, the team's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

The Braves already cannot give an international signing bonus of more than $300,000 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pools under baseball's previous labor contract.

And there is still more discipline to be handed down.

Manfred said he intends "to discipline other Braves international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct."

Coppolella was forced to resign after the season. Former team president John Hart was moved to a senior adviser role when a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, was hired on Nov. 13. Hart left the team on Friday.

"The senior baseball operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves," Manfred said. He also said the Braves "cooperated throughout the investigation."

Coppolella did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Braves braced fans for the sanctions when team chairman Terry McGuirk apologized to fans "on behalf of the entire Braves family" for the rules violations at the news conference to introduce Anthopoulos.

The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down.

"As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball."

Manfred said he is confident the Braves management team led by McGuirk, Anthopoulos and vice chairman John Schuerholz "have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been."

The Braves are not the first team to be found guilty of violating rules in signing international players.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox lost five players and were banned from signing international amateur free agents for one year as punishment for rules violations on signing bonuses.