Giants

With Smith likely out until May, Giants looking for lefty help

will_smith.jpg
USATSI

With Smith likely out until May, Giants looking for lefty help

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of hours after they were connected to a free agent reliever, the Giants gave their most definitive Will Smith update in months. The two are connected. 

Smith’s target date for a return to the big leagues is May 1, manager Bruce Bochy said, leaving the Giants without their best left-handed reliever for potentially the first 28 games. With little else in the way of established lefty relief on the roster, the Giants are reportedly chasing veteran Tony Watson. Bob Nightengate of USA Today reported that the Giants and Watson are involved in “serious contract talks,” with Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports adding that the Phillies and Red Sox are also after Watson. 

A longtime Pirate, the 32-year-old Watson has a 2.68 ERA in seven big league seasons. He had a 3.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 71 appearances for the Pirates and Dodgers last season. Watson would immediately became Bochy’s go-to lefty early in the season, but it’s unclear how the Giants will be able to slide him under the luxury tax. The Giants have only a couple million to spend before reaching the limit, and Watson is certainly worth more than that. On the other hand, camps opened Tuesday and he has been caught up by a market where teams simply aren’t spending. Plus, Bobby Evans has consistently proven to be creative at structuring contracts to lower the tax hit. 

Regardless of what happens with Watson, the Giants will need Smith to be a big part of their bullpen at some point, and he said he’s optimistic about his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Smith has already thrown seven bullpen sessions and is close to facing hitters. He said he has had no setbacks during the process, but the training staff is being cautious. The Giants at some point hoped to get Smith back by opening day but May 1 is more realistic. 

“If you’ve already waited this long, what’s another three weeks?” Smith said. “One of the worst things would be to rush back for opening day and then have to take three weeks off in the middle of the season. That would kill me. That would suck.”

Giants vs. Rockies live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

Giants vs. Rockies live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The Giants are set to begin a daunting 10-game road trip Monday that could dramatically alter their 2020 season, as they will square off against the Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros away from home over the next week and a half.

The Giants (5-5) start their trip at Coors Field against the surprising Rockies (6-2). The Giants are coming off a series win against the Texas Rangers, while the Rockies most recently took two out of three from the San Diego Padres.

Here's how you can watch the Giants play the Rockies online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Monday, Aug. 3

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Tuesday, Aug. 4

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Wednesday, Aug. 5

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 5:40 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Thursday, Aug. 6

When: Giants Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m. PT -- First pitch at 12:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

Why Gabe Kapler sees signs of life with Pablo Sandoval's latest swings

It was just a single, and Pablo Sandoval ended up standing on first and watching three straight teammates strike out. But his hit in the second inning Tuesday might have been one of the more well-timed ones of his second stint with the Giants. 

All MLB teams have to cut from 30 to 28 players on Thursday morning, and with that deadline looming, it was not hard to look at Sandoval's stat line and see a potentially tough decision coming for the front office. Sandoval still has just three hits in 26 at-bats, and he's not being used in a versatile role. Regardless, manager Gabe Kapler stuck him right back in the lineup, noting that there were signs of life in Tuesday's loss. 

"Last night was a really good signal with respect to his swing," Kapler said on a Zoom call Wednesday morning. "He really crushed some balls, crushed them on the ground, and ultimately in a perfect world you're able to elevate the balls that you hit hardest, and when he's at his best that's exactly what he's doing. What we've seen with Pablo has been a slow progression towards his good swing."

Sandoval is working with the new staff to get his legs more involved, and on Tuesday he certainly looked more like his old self. In that first at-bat he pulled a 95 mph pitch from German Marquez into right field at 109 mph. He flied out to deep left in the fourth, and then grounded out twice, including a double play. But those two grounders left the bat at 104.7 mph and 108.7. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It's hard to tell what the Giants will do with Thursday's moves, especially since their need for 15 pitchers is still there, but it can't be a comfortable time for players who are slumping or pigeonholed, as Sandoval has been. He has not played third base yet, with Donovan Solano a preferred option as Evan Longoria's backup. He also has just five plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. 

"We have a lot of options to hit lefties, from Solano to (Wilmer) Flores to Darin Ruf to (Austin) Slater to (Mauricio) Dubon," Kapler said. "We've got a lot of guys who are really equipped to take down at-bats against lefties. It's a little bit thinner when we're facing a right-handed pitcher."

[RELATED: Nolan Arenado continues to crush Giants]

Kapler still believes Sandoval is one of his best late-game options against tough righties, and on Wednesday he should get three or four more at-bats to prove if his swing is coming back. He is the DH against hard-throwing righty Jon Gray, and Kapler sounded confident in the choice. 

"We kind of evaluate Pablo very similarly to the way we evaluated him when we came out of our secondary camp," Kapler said.