Why are the Giants reportedly gambling on a Pablo Sandoval reunion?

Why are the Giants reportedly gambling on a Pablo Sandoval reunion?

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after Pablo Sandoval was designated for assignment, Bruce Bochy was asked about his former third baseman. He said he thinks “the world of Pablo.”

“He’ll be fine,” Bochy added. “He’s got enough to live on.”

Bochy gave no indication he was ready for a reunion. Behind closed doors, many added that they didn’t want one, period. For two days over the weekend, I chatted with players and team employees about the possibility of Sandoval returning. I didn’t find one who was eager for the move. 

Someone, and someone important, apparently did. 

According to Jesse Sanchez of and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Sandoval and the Giants will agree to a minor league deal. Giants officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon because Sandoval still has not cleared waivers. Sanchez and Heyman are as good as it gets, however, so we must ask the next question: “Why?”

Why do the Giants, in last place, possibly headed for their worst season ever and a rebuild, feel it’s a good idea to bring back a player who hasn’t had a good season since leaving in 2014 and left a scorched earth trail on his way to Boston?

Perhaps the reason is Sam Dyson. Team officials are thrilled with the move they pulled, acquiring Dyson essentially for free after he was designated by the Rangers. Dyson is now their closer. Maybe the Giants feel Sandoval can be similar found money. 

Perhaps the reason is the sellout streak. The Giants, for the first time in seven years, are looking at nights where the park isn’t filled. Sandoval burned bridges, but he still has some fans in the Bay Area and there have to be a few dozen boxes of panda hats in a closet at AT&T Park, right? 

Perhaps there’s an old-fashioned baseball reason, although that’s a bit harder to find. Sandoval posted a negative WAR in all three seasons in Boston and he played just 161 total games, posting a .237 average and a .646 OPS. But maybe Giants scouts see something there that they can fix, giving them a switch-hitter off the bench and potentially another option at third. 

The Giants — should the move become official — will give their rationale. At some point, someone may have to explain this move to the clubhouse, too. After leaving, Sandoval said he only missed Bochy and Hunter Pence.

“Do I remember that story?” one player said this week, “Of course I do."

Some players expressed a desire to give time to Ryder Jones and Jae-gyun Hwang, and to wait for Christian Arroyo to get healthy. Instead, the Panda is reportedly returning. Why? Maybe the question asked in the front office one was a different one: “Given the way this season has gone, why not?”

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”