Giants

Should Giants be finding more starts for slugging Pablo Sandoval?

Should Giants be finding more starts for slugging Pablo Sandoval?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval took fly balls in left field during the spring. He caught a bullpen session. A year after starting at second base, he tried to keep that option open, too. 

The Giants' switch-hitter has embraced versatility over the last year, or tried to, in order to get extra time on the field, but thus far his role has been as traditional as it gets. He has made two starts at third base and one at first, and in both games of this series, he was the designated hitter. Otherwise, Sandoval has 17 appearances off the bench. 

That's the role that was expected as the Giants broke camp, but Sandoval has put his own twist on things: He has been more dangerous than any Giants hitter through a month, making a strong case that he should be more of a fixture for one of the worst lineups in the majors. 

"There's no real good way to do it except give Longo the occasional day off," manager Bruce Bochy said before Wednesday's 4-0 win over the Blue Jays. "The thing that I like about Pablo is he's able to sit and maintain his swing and go up there and give you a good at-bat, so whether it's Belt or Longo taking a day, Pablo will start occasionally. If you're talking on a daily basis, it's just hard to do."

Perhaps the Giants need to find a way, though. 

Sandoval's homer Wednesday, his second in two games in Toronto, left the bat at 112 mph (he later had an out at 111 mph). It was the hardest-hit ball of the season by a Giant, and by the end of the day Sandoval had a .333 average and 1.027 OPS. He would easily lead the team in OPS if he qualified, and he currently leads the Giants in doubles (7) despite starting just five games. 

The problem is that Sandoval can't really be anything but an emergency option at any position but first and third. First baseman Brandon Belt is the team's best hitter overall and locked into the lineup, although perhaps the Giants will give him more time in left to clear some playing time. The staff has shown no inclination to give Sandoval more time at third, where Evan Longoria has a .655 OPS and three homers. 

Sandoval enjoyed two days as a starter in Toronto, picking up four hits. But it'll be back to the pinch-hitting role when the Giants return home Friday, and it's a role nobody is doing better right now. Sandoval leads the National League with six pinch-hits, five of which have been doubles. He has scored three runs and driven in two as a pinch-hitter, repeatedly kickstarting late-game rallies. 

[RELATED: Belt not a fan of robot umpires despite frustrations]

"A lot of Pablo's hits are coming off the bench, too, so that works," Bochy said. "It's nice to have a batter sitting on the bench and when you need a big hit, he's ready to go. A lot of those at-bats come with men on base and later in the game, and I've got a pretty nice weapon there."

Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park's Crazy Crab Sandwich at home

Field to Table: How to make Oracle Park's Crazy Crab Sandwich at home

It was more than just a kooky mascot that roamed Oracle Park and captured our hearts. It captured our taste buds as well. 

With Giants baseball on indefinite hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we wanted to bring the ballpark to you by creating the Crazy Crab Sandwich at home.

NBC Sports Bay Area has teamed up with Wine.com to create the "Field to Table" cooking show, where we'll attempt to cook our favorite ballpark treats from home.

Giants studio host Kelli Johnson, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and "Shelter on Base/Triples Alley" member Anthony Garcia all attempt to make the Oracle Park delicacy from scratch in the second installment of "Field to Table."

Here's the recipe they used:

- Crabmeat (pasteurized)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- Lemon wedges
- Sliced sourdough bread
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Sliced tomato
- Garlic (1 clove, chopped)
- Parsley (chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste

[RELATED: How to make Oracle Park's famous garlic fries at home]

Check out the video above to see their cooking skills on display.

Receive $25 off a $100-or-more order on Wine.com by using the promo code "NBCSPORTS"

Giants encouraged by how players are handling early safety protocols

Giants encouraged by how players are handling early safety protocols

The owners and players don't appear to be any closer to a resolution that will allow baseball to return to the field this summer, but behind the scenes, the Giants haven't allowed that to be too discouraging. They know that at any moment they might get word that they have to rush to San Francisco for Spring Training 2.0, and they're trying to stay ready.

While players have mostly been diligently working out at home since camp ended in March, the Giants quietly opened up their Scottsdale facility last month to further ramp things up. Players who live in the area have been allowed to come in to work out, although there is a limit on how many staffers can be in the building at one time and visits are staggered to allow for proper distancing. 

During a recent appearance on KNBR, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he was encouraged by the way players are going about their workouts when allowed into the facility, calling it a positive development. 

"One of the realities of our situation is it's going to be a different experience for players and staff coming to the ballpark," Zaidi said. "What it means to even get in the front door, frankly, but then what it's going to look like inside. For us to be able to ramp that facility up and in very limited numbers have people coming through, players coming through, going through individual workouts, it's exposed them to what it's going to be like."

If the game resumes, the ramp-up from this point will be significant. The Giants are talking every day about what a shortened season might look like, sharing ideas on how to allow the players and coaches to properly train. 

While the organization has not fully decided if their three-week training period will take place at Scottsdale Stadium or Oracle Park, the strong lean is to return to San Francisco.

While Scottsdale Stadium provides an extra field, more bullpen mounds, and a new state-of-the-art weight room and training facility, Giants employees believe that San Francisco is safer overall, having made a much stronger commitment to trying to flatten the curve. A few high-ranking team employees who stayed in Arizona originally have returned to the Bay Area.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Oracle Park is unmatched as a baseball stadium, but there will be complications for a second spring training and shortened season. The Giants have talked about putting up temporary batting cages in the concourses and creating new clubhouse and changing spaces to spread players and coaches out. 

This is all just the tip of the iceberg, and if the Giants get word that baseball is returning, it'll be a wild scramble to get everything in place. It'll be something unlike anything players have been through before, but the early signs are encouraging. 

[RELATED: What shortened season would have looked like for 2019 Giants]

"Our players that have come through (Scottsdale Stadium) have been awesome with complying with all the rules, some which I'm sure seem a little bit onerous under the circumstances, but again it's just the reality of the situation that we're in," Zaidi said. "We're going to have to do this on a much grander scale if we get going here in a couple of weeks. Seeing the players being so bought-in to the safety protocols we put in place, that's been a real encouraging sign, because we're going to need that on a broad scale."