Zito trying to shatter expectations


Zito trying to shatter expectations

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Broken bats? Swings and misses? WasBarry Zito really the cause of all that?Intrasquad batting practice is a long way from facing MattKemp, Troy Tulowitzki or Justin Upton. But for what it was worth, Zito lookedsharp during his session Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium.Pablo Sandoval swung through the first pitch. MelkyCabreras bat shattered in his hands. Zito allowed only one hard-hit ball asolid connection by Sandoval that probably wouldve split the outfielders inright-center field.Giants manager Bruce Bochy was on the back field and didn't see Zitossession with catcher Buster Posey. But the manager came away impressed after hesaw the left-hander throw to hitters on Sunday.

Zito is using a refined delivery that is most noticeably differentfrom the stretch, where his front leg is bent and his weight is shiftedforward. Hes trying to throw with more momentum and extension, allowing him toget extra finish on his pitches.Its about having late life, Zito said earlier thisspring.Its getting late in Zitos tenure with the Giants, too.Entering year six of his seven-year, 126 million contract, the 33-year-old might bepitching with the lowest amount of pressure and expectations in black andorange. The Giants are counting on him to be their No. 5 starter, post five orsix innings and keep games reasonably close.Above all, they need Zito to be a strike thrower somethinghe has struggled to do in the entirety of his Giants career.If some of those strikes break bats, all the better.

Former Giants infielder replaces Dodgers' star shortstop on NLCS roster


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.

Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure


Bochy, Giants issue statement following manager's heart procedure

Bruce Bochy's minor offseason heart procedure went as planned, the team announced Friday afternoon. 

In a message passed along to beat reporters, Bochy said "the procedure went extremely well and I'm feeling better. I'm grateful for the doctors and want to thank everyone who has reached out with well wishes."

Bochy, 62, had an ablation procedure to help him deal with heart issues that have plagued him in recent years. The operation was his second of the year, but it was considered minor enough that it could be pushed back to the end of the season.

Cleveland's Terry Francona had a similar procedure this year and returned to manage, and Bochy has left no doubt about his future. 

“I don’t want anyone to think this has an effect on my work, or ability to work,” Bochy said last week. “This is something that is not uncommon.”