Giants

Giants sign Pablo Sandoval to minor league deal

Giants sign Pablo Sandoval to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years after departing for what he thought would be a better fit, Pablo Sandoval has returned. 

The third baseman, a key cog in the dynasty the Giants built earlier this decade, re-signed with the organization on a minor league deal on Saturday morning. Sandoval will join Class-A San Jose immediately and move on to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. He was in the AT&T Park clubhouse on Saturday to take a physical. 

Sandoval, now 30 years old, spent the first seven years of his career in San Francisco, batting .294 with 106 homers amid battles with his weight and inconsistency. The Giants never quite got on the same page with Sandoval when it came to his conditioning, and he alternated between being a valued power hitter in the middle of their lineup and sitting on the verge of being replaced. 

In Boston, there were no such highs. Sandoval played just 161 games over three seasons, batting .237 with 14 homers, and playing poor defense. He posted a negative Wins Above Replacement in all three seasons with the Red Sox and he was designated for assignment last week. Sandoval twice cleared waivers, so the Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of a five-year, $95 million contract. 

The Giants have not yet commented publicly about Sandoval, citing tampering rules. The view from team employees seems to be that there’s little risk in signing a former fan favorite who comes essentially for free. With Christian Arroyo on the disabled list, Sandoval will not be blocking one of the organization’s top prospects, although you can argue that a last-place team would be better served looking at players like Ryder Jones.

Most players were guarded in their comments this week. Hunter Pence, the lone player mentioned in a positive light by Sandoval in a scathing article after his departure, said he is excited for a reunion. Others offered some version of, “If he helps us win, so be it.” 

It’s unclear if Sandoval can still do that, and multiple team officials, speaking on background this week, said it’s a coin flip whether Sandoval ever returns to the majors. Still, the Giants are willing to flip that coin, and their history says they don't sign veterans and leave them in the minors. 

Giants' Brandon Crawford confident knee issue won't linger

Giants' Brandon Crawford confident knee issue won't linger

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have lost their starting catcher, first baseman and center fielder for the year due to injuries that have required or will require surgery. Two of their top three starting pitchers coming into the season are on the 60-day disabled list, along with their top bench bat. 

The injury updates this season have ranged from bad to catastrophic, but when it comes to the starting shortstop, the recent developments have been positive. After sitting out five games in eight days because of left knee discomfort, Brandon Crawford believes he has turned a corner. He’s confident that this is not something that will plague him long-term or next season, comparing it to right shoulder soreness that popped up four years ago but has been managed with proactive rehab. 

“Cartilage doesn’t grow back, but as long as I stay on top of it like the shoulder stuff, it shouldn’t be an issue,” Crawford said of his knee. 

The pain Crawford has been dealing with throughout the second half is under the kneecap, but the training staff has found some traction strengthening his quad muscle and doing other rehab work that loosens the IT band. The work Crawford has been doing is similar to what you would do during a DL stint, but Crawford never felt he could take that much time, even as his numbers cratered after an All-Star first half. 

“I probably should have spoken up about how much it bothered me, but I wanted to be out there every day,” he said. “We were trying to make the playoffs.”

Now, the Giants are simply trying to keep others out of the playoffs. Manager Bruce Bochy gave Crawford a night off Tuesday, but expects him in the lineup for all three games against the contending Cardinals this weekend. You can bet that a Bay Area native who grew up learning how to dislike the Dodgers will be in the lineup all three games next weekend, too. 

Crawford wants more than to just be in the lineup, of course. He was the hottest hitter in the National League for a long stretch in the first half and was batting .338 at his peak. The knee injury has kept him from utilizing his normal approach and sitting on his back knee. He was drifting with his swing, but in recent games the results have been better. Crawford had three hits Wednesday and has four multi-hit games in his last nine starts.  

Crawford’s numbers won’t end up anywhere near where they might have had he stayed healthy. Asked Wednesday if the knowledge he now has about his knee makes that easier or more difficult to swallow, he paused. 

“I guess in a way I’m glad there’s a reason for it and it’s not just that I forgot how to hit,” he said, smiling. “It’s something that I didn’t realize was affecting me this much until it was too late.”

Giants' draft fate hasn't been significantly altered by September swoon

Giants' draft fate hasn't been significantly altered by September swoon

SAN DIEGO — A year ago at this time, the Giants were in a race for the top pick in the draft. Finishing second worked out pretty well, given what catcher Joey Bart did in his pro debut for Salem-Keizer, and the product on the field has been slightly improved a season later. 

The step forward hasn’t been what the Giants had hoped, though, and as they lost 11 straight earlier this month, it was easy for some fans to once again start dreaming about a top prospect. But there’s been something weird about this late-season collapse. The Giants have lost 13 of their last 17, but they haven’t improved their draft stock much.

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On the first day of the month, the Giants were 68-69 and in position to pick 14th in the draft. Currently, they are in position to pick 12th. There are three teams — the Twins, Mets and Blue Jays — right ahead of them in the overall standings, but it’s unlikely the Giants will move much in either direction over the final nine games. 

So what would a 12th overall pick mean? It’s still another significant chance for the Giants to add top-end talent. The recent history of No. 12 picks isn’t strong, but the early teens have provided plenty of stars. The last No. 12 pick to really become a good player was Yasmani Grandal in 2010, and before that it was Jay Bruce in 2005. The Giants have never had the 12th pick in the draft, although they’ve picked in that general vicinity a few times. Tyler Beede was taken 14th overall and Heliot Ramos and Phil Bickford were also taken in the teens. 

Perhaps the real key is to end up with the No. 10 pick. The Giants took Tim Lincecum 10th overall in 2006 and a year later grabbed Madison Bumgarner with the same pick.