After crushing Giants for two years, Hector Sanchez returns


After crushing Giants for two years, Hector Sanchez returns

SCOTTSDALE — As he passed through the clubhouse Tuesday morning, Bruce Bochy noticed Hector Sanchez sitting at his locker giving an interview. The two smiled while they talked about their reunion, but when Sanchez’s incredible success against the Giants came up, Bochy shook his head and made a sour face. He laughed as he muttered a few choice words. 

“Come on, you know you love me!” Sanchez yelled. 

This season, Bochy will love having Sanchez back on this side of an NL West matchup, regardless of whether he’s in Triple-A or the Majors. The 28-year-old catcher returned on a minor league deal after spending two years terrorizing his old teammates. Last season, Sanchez hit four homers in 30 at-bats against the Giants but just four against every other team combined. Over the last two seasons, he was 13-for-35 against the Giants, with five homers (he hit 10 total in five seasons with the Giants), 14 RBI and a 1.246 OPS. 

The blasts were meaningful, too. With the Padres trailing by two in the ninth inning on April 30, Sanchez hit a game-tying homer off Mark Melancon. The Padres would go on to win in the 11th inning. On July 15, Sanchez crushed a Steven Okert slider into the Western Metal Supply building at Petco Park for a two-run walk-off homer. Sanchez even took former Giants deep. He hit one off Sergio Romo in the ninth inning of a game against the Dodgers in June. 

So … why did Hector Sanchez enjoy crushing his former teammates so much?

“Everybody was asking me if it was something that I had against the Giants, but it wasn’t,” he said. “I was just trying to do my job. You guys know me. I’m just going up there trying to do my job. The one thing that helped was I did get the opportunity to play against the Giants a lot, and it’s nice doing well when you get to play against your brothers.”

Padres manager Andy Green certainly took advantage of the odd results. Sanchez’s five starts and 31 plate appearances against the Giants were his most against any team. Whatever the motivation was, it worked. Bobby Evans called in the offseason and Sanchez immediately told his agent he wanted to return to the team that made him Buster Posey’s primary backup from 2012 to 2014. There’s no room at the big league level, but Sanchez will likely team with Trevor Brown in Sacramento to give the organization two experienced options in the minors. 

“It was my dream to finish my career here,” Sanchez said. “My mindset when I first signed my contract was to be a Giant forever. It’s a great feeling to see these guys again.”

On his first day back, Sanchez said he had already taken some ribbing about the damage he did from the other dugout. 

“Everybody is talking to me about it and having fun with it,” he said. “I’ll try to do it against other teams now.”

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

SAN FRANCISCO — The clubhouse cleared out quickly after Sunday’s games. Players are always in a rush to get to flights home after the final game of the first half, but you have a bit more urgency in your step when you’re trying to leave a couple losses behind.

There is one member of the clubhouse, though, who will not soon forget the way the Giants lost 6-2 to the A’s in their first-half finale. Bruce Bochy watched a lineup that looked tired and incapable of backing a suddenly sturdy staff. Afterward, he promised to spend the next four days pondering some solutions.

“That’s what I’m going to sit on here the next four days — if they need more breaks,” Bochy said. “We’ll think of things to keep them fresher and sharper.”

The team that faced Sean Manaea on Sunday looked very much in need of a break. The Giants had five scattered hits and a performance that would have looked right at home in last season’s first half. Bochy said he saw some tired bats, and the numbers this month look all too familiar, in the wrong way. The Giants have just six homers in July, the least in the Majors, after showing increased power early in the season.

Two have come from Chase d’Arnaud and Pablo Sandoval, fill-ins for Evan Longoria. Alen Hanson and Gorkys Hernandez have the others. That’s not exactly how they drew this up. Bochy cut off a question about the backups having all the power this month.

“Oh I’m well aware of that,” he said, laughing.

Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have an extra-base hit this month, continuing a frustrating first season in San Francisco. Brandon Belt has three doubles but nothing more in July. Buster Posey also has three doubles and Brandon Crawford has a pair. Bochy is pleased with the additions of guys like d’Arnaud, Hanson and Steven Duggar, Sandoval’s improvements and Hernandez’s breakouts, but he knows he needs his big guns down the stretch.

“That’s what we’re missing as much as anything is power,” he said. “Not just homers — we’re not driving the ball like I think we can.”

The staff is hopeful that four days off will help. It’s not like the Giants have a tough travel schedule in front of them. They’ll regroup on Thursday in Oakland for a workout and then play three more in the East Bay, where most of this roster lives. After that it’s a day off and two in Seattle, and then it’s back home.

Bochy revealed that Dereck Rodriguez will get the opener in Oakland, followed by Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija, placed on the DL on Sunday, is a possibility for the fifth spot, although Derek Holland seems far more likely.

Rodriguez got the nod in part to break up the lefties and righties, but also as a reward for the good work he has done. He has been a revelation, helping the Giants stay above water. Even after losing two straight to the A’s, the Giants finished the first half at 50-48 and just four games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

A year ago at the break, this club was 34-56 and 27 games out of first place.

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's


SAN FRANCISCO -- There were many positives in the first half for the Giants, but the All-Star break came with a whimper. 

The lineup scattered five hits, Andrew Suarez had a rare dud, and the Giants fell 6-2 to the A's in the third game of this six-game set. They've lost two straight after a good win on Friday night and enter the break with a 50-48 record and in fourth place in the National League West. 

Here's what you need to know from "Don't Miss Your Red-eye Flight" Day... 

--- Suarez was cruising through his final start of the half before the wheels came off in the fourth. Suarez didn’t allow a hit to that point, but Jed Lowrie walked with one out and the A’s followed with four consecutive singles. A sacrifice fly capped the four-run inning. Suarez gave up four earned in five innings, walking two and striking out five. He had allowed four total runs in his four previous starts. 

--- Because of all his injuries, Ray Black often wasn’t allowed to pitch back-to-back days in the minor leagues. Bruce Bochy tested him Sunday, sending him out for the seventh a few hours after Black got a couple outs in relief of Tony Watson. Black easily handled the test, striking out two and getting a pop-up to center. His fastball was down a tick… to 97. 

--- Chase d’Arnaud hit a solo shot, his second since being called up. The veteran is tied with Pablo Sandoval for the team lead in homers in July. That’s nice for d’Arnaud, not so great for this offense. The Giants have just six homers this month.