Giants

Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers

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USATI

Giants pick up options on Sandoval and two starting pitchers

SAN FRANCISCO — After the 2014 World Series, it was just about a lock that the Giants would eventually pick up Madison Bumgarner’s 2018 option. It also seemed a lock that they would never again pick up a Pablo Sandoval option year. On Monday, both things became official. 

On a conference call to introduce two coaching hires, general manager Bobby Evans confirmed that the club has picked up Bumgarner’s $12 million option, Matt Moore’s $9 million option and Sandoval’s option that will pay him the league minimum. The Red Sox, who designated Sandoval for assignment in the summer, are on the hook for the rest of that deal. 

Bumgarner is set for another opening day start and Moore is looking forward to putting a brutal 2017 season behind him, one that did not deter Evans from saying in September that he would bring the lefty back. Both those players are set for big roles, but Sandoval’s immediate future is a bit cloudier. 

Vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean said finding an everyday third baseman is one of the focus areas of the offseason. It does not sound like Sandoval is currently in line to be that guy. He hit .225 with five homers in 160 at-bats, but showed flashes of his old self by homering off Kenley Jansen and Max Scherzer and hitting a walk-off on the final day of the season.

“We saw enough to be intrigued to bring him into camp and see how the chips fall,” Sabean said. “Having said that, if you’re going back to what the questions are and how we look at how we reconstruct, we have to have someone more prototypical or run-production oriented.”

The Sandoval situation is a simple one. He is essentially a free veteran at this point, and if he shows up in Scottsdale out of shape or doesn't perform, the Giants can cut the cord without paying any financial penalty. If he shows improvement, they could have a versatile bat for their bench. 

The Giants hoped to have more solid internal options going into the spring, but Ryder Jones had a rough rookie debut and Christian Arroyo’s injury problems continue. Arroyo’s winter ball experience was cut short because he had a new plate inserted in a hand that required season-ending surgery during the minor league season. Arroyo is expected to be ready for the start of spring training. 

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

BOX SCORE

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. 

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--- 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.