Giants

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

How Pablo Sandoval impressed Gabe Kapler in Giants live batting practice

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first session of live batting practice drew a crowd, but for the Giants hitters involved, there wasn't all that much buzz. 

With Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris, Gabe Kapler and half the coaching staff watching from behind the backstop, and the analytics staff set up to track pitch characteristics and swings, Brandon Belt stepped up to the plate and took a couple of walks. Buster Posey did the same, tracking pitches into the catcher's glove and then retreating to the dugout to tell hitting coach Donnie Ecker what he was seeing. 

And then Pablo Sandoval dug into the batter's box.

Sandoval swung at the first five pitches he saw from prospect Luis Madero, fouling a couple off and lining a couple into the grass. He was just as aggressive in his second session. When Kapler sat down with reporters a few minutes later, he was still laughing over Sandoval's mentality.

"I've never seen an approach to live BP like Pablo just took," Kapler said. 

The manager loved seeing it for a couple of reasons. First of all, Sandoval figures to be Kapler's top pinch-hit option for most of the year, in part because of that aggression. Kapler said earlier this week that he always feared seeing Sandoval step in when he was managing the Phillies, in large part because he knew Sandoval would be ready to do damage from the first pitch, unlike many hitters who like to first look at a couple offerings in the late innings. 

"It kind of demonstrates why he's so dangerous at the plate, because he's just prepared to drive every pitch," Kapler said. "Generally you calibrate one of two ways: By taking and seeing pitches, and the second way is by swinging at pitches -- and he just took aggressive hacks on everything that was thrown up there."

The second reason Kapler liked what he saw was health-related. Sandoval is well ahead of schedule in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, but he's still likely to miss the first month of the season as he works his throwing arm back into shape. The Giants have, though, discussed the fact that at some point they may have a tough decision to make. 

With a 26th roster spot, they could, in theory, carry Sandoval as he continues to rehab, using him only as a pinch-hitter. On Tuesday, as Sandoval hungrily went after two-seamers and changeups from Madero, he looked the part of someone who could be ready for a hitting-focused role on Opening Day. Kapler noted that Sandoval was "right on" every pitch.

[RELATED: The Giants will use in-game interpreter]

"He's been thinking about his swing for a long time and working on his swing for a while now," Kapler said. "It's going to be like a bit of a tricky puzzle, because we're going to want to get him reps at his pace earlier in camp, and at the same time we know that he's not going to be ready at the same pace as some of our other players. 

"We want to be respectful of the pace that he wants to work at, so we're going to have to weigh those two factors."

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

If Giants, Dodgers never moved West, MLB might look very different now

Back in the mid 1950's, Major League Baseball hadn't conquered the West Coast.

But that changed in 1957 when the Giants and Dodgers were granted permission to move from New York to San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.

Both teams played their inaugural season in California in 1958.

Baseball hasn't been the same since, relocating or adding teams all over the West Coast.

But how would MLB look today if the Giants and Dodgers hadn't moved West? According to the MLB Cathedrals' Twitter account, the Dodgers wanted a new stadium in Brooklyn in 1957, but were denied, leading to the two teams moving.

So MLB Cathedrals ran through the hypothetical scenario with real-world info and some fan input to see what the league would look like today if the Dodgers had been allowed to stay in Brooklyn.

First, the San Francisco Giants in their current form wouldn't exist. The New York Giants would have moved to Minnesota in 1959.

In 1961, the Washington Senators moved to Los Angeles and became the Angels.

That same year, the American League adds two expansion teams: The San Francisco Seals and a new club in Washington, D.C. According to MLB Cathedrals, the Seals would play at Seals Stadium until a new ballpark could be built for them.

In 1962, the National League expands, adding teams in Houston and Los Angeles. Because the Dodgers stayed in Brooklyn, the Mets are never created. The new team in LA is called the Stars, meaning the Giants and Dodgers names never exist.

[RELATED: Inside Giants' 2012 WS sweep]

When MLB Cathedrals conducted the experiment Saturday, they had Oakland getting an expansion team, the Oaks. On Sunday, in a new version of the experiment with more info and fan polls, Oakland never gets a team.

Here's how the AL and NL look as of 1998, according to MLB Cathedrals.

Based on these projections, Major League Baseball and baseball in the Bay Area would look very, very different.

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Mauricio Dubon is living the dream of every young Giants fan right now. 

Dubon moved to Sacramento when he was 15 years old to live with a host family -- leaving his family in Honduras -- in order chase his dreams of playing baseball. He attended his first Giants game as a teenager in 2010, sitting in the center field bleachers as Tim Lincecum pitched the Giants closer to a division title. As a young shortstop he idolized Brandon Crawford, and now is his teammate and will be Crawford's double-play partner on many occasions this season. 

When Dubon first made his Giants debut in late August after being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, he certainly could feel his fandom come alive. The same can be said for when the team brought Hunter Pence back this offseason.

"The first time I saw Hunter at FanFest, I asked for a picture, actually," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "I asked him for a picture, yeah. 2014, with the whole speech and everything -- as a fan, you kind of get excited. As a player, you get even more excited." 

Dubon said he had to get away from the Giants' veteran players last year when guys like Tim Lincecum, Angel Pagan and many others came back for Bruce Bochy's final game as San Francisco's manager. The young infielder simply couldn't help but get giddy seeing his childhood heroes. Dubon even used Pagan's salute celebration in high school. 

Now with Pence in the fold and Pablo Sandoval returning to San Francisco, Dubon doesn't see why the Giants couldn't shock the world again once the season returns amid baseball's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing first Opening Day]

"I keep telling people that when were we favorites -- I say "we" as a fan -- when were we favorites to win a World Series in '10, '12 and '14? Never," Dubon said. "So why's it gonna change right now?

"We have the same veterans. Same hunger, probably even more. We got guys that are willing to do anything to win a game. I think we have a pretty good chance of [winning] the whole thing." 

Dubon is expected to be manager Gabe Kapler's do-it-all utility man up in the middle at second base, shortstop and center field this season to keep his athleticism in the lineup. And while his fandom always will live within him, he could be a major key to the Giants brining their next World Series trophy back to San Francisco.