Tag:San Francisco Giants
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:00 am
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Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

MESA, Ariz. -- Ears perked up, perhaps, by new manager Dale Sveum discussing him as a potential cleanup man the other day, beleaguered Cubs veteran Alfonso Soriano sure looked the part Tuesday.

Granted, it was March 6. Yes, the Colorado Rockies essentially are holding tryouts for their rotation and Guillermo Moscoso and Zach Putnam won't remind anyone of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson anytime soon. And true, making hasty spring training judgments is more dangerous than crossing the desert with no water.

On the flip side, when you've had your ears pinned back with boos while disappointing as much as Soriano has over the past couple of seasons ... maybe a little confidence boost can go a long way.

Batting fourth against the Rockies on Tuesday, Soriano absolutely crushed a Moscoso pitch in the second inning, drilling it off of the scoreboard behind the left-field seats. Then, after doubling against Alex White -- another Rockies' starting pitcher wannabe -- he ripped another homer, this one in the fifth against Putnam. He finished with three RBIs.

"Second game, and I'm starting to feel good with my swing and with my timing," Soriano said. "That made me feel good."

Normally, Soriano said, it takes him somewhere between 20 and 25 at-bats before he begins feeling good in the spring. So you might say he's already in mid-spring form.

"My goal is to have a lot of at-bats and feel comfortable at the plate," Soriano, who batted .244 with 26 homers and 88 RBI last season, said of the spring. "I want to show my teammates and show the Cubs that I'm here to play the game. It doesn't matter if I lead off, I'm here to do my job."

Soriano, a leadoff man in the past, lost that gig in 2009 under Lou Piniella. Slogging along at the plate for too long, Soriano mostly hit seventh (221 plate appearances) last year, with some sixth (186) and fifth (94) mixed in.

Aggressively shopped over the winter by new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, and booed at the Cubs Convention over the winter, Soriano said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup.

"Not really," he said. "I'm just preparing my mind. It doesn't matter to me if I lead off or hit fourth or fifth."

Wherever Sveum thinks he can best help the club, the affable Soriano said, he's happy to hit there.

Sveum has said he'd like to give rookie first baseman Bryan LaHair the opportunity to hit in the cleanup spot in the order. But right out of the gate, that would appear to be pushing it for a rookie. If Soriano can have a good spring and own the cleanup spot, that will take some of the heat off of LaHair as well as give the Cubs a boost.

Plus, the only way the Cubs likely will be able to trade him is if he gets off to a hot start, and a contender impressed with his April, May and June comes calling. Soriano has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract. The under-new-management Cubs have been so desperate to move him that sources say they will eat a significant portion of the contract if they can deal him.

This spring, though, Soriano, 36, will keep his blinders on and prepare for 2012.

He wants to get as many spring at-bats as he can.

"The more I take, the more I feel comfortable at home plate," he said. "If I can get 50, 60, 100 ... my goal is to be ready for opening day."

Last spring, he checked in with 64 at-bats.

This spring, if many more of them go as they did Tuesday, maybe Soriano can write a happy ending yet.

Sunblock day? Nice and hot, in the 80s, with a bright, warm sun and a cloudless, blue sky. Perfect spring training weather. And great convertible day.

Likes: Cool old huge photo of Ron Santo on the door greeting those entering the press box at the Cubs' HoHoKam Park. Very striking, and a great tribute. ... Looking forward to watching Yu Darvish's Cactus League debut Wednesday. ... Every time I visit Scottsdale Stadium, it's reinforced that it's the best thing going. ... Reminiscing about former major leaguers and legendary scouts Pat Dobson and Ted Uehlander with Giants general manager Brian Sabean. Each of those men, special assistants to Sabean before passing away, was a terrific baseball character, and it brightened your day to run into them. I miss seeing Dobber and Ted around the spring training trails. ... The fried calamari at the Italian Grotto in Scottsdale.

Dislikes: Freddy Sanchez, Giants' second baseman -- will he ever again be healthy enough to be the player many thought he would become? Discuss.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hold tight to your anger
"And don't fall to your fears"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
Posted on: March 6, 2012 3:56 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:57 pm
 

Posey runs bases, moves closer to game action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The San Francisco Giants' 2012 season inched forward 90 feet at a time Tuesday. On a back field away from the crowds, Buster Posey ran the bases.

It was another step in the comeback from his devastating ankle injury suffered last May, and count it in the "two steps forward" department, which beats the heck out of the "one step back" slot.

"That's kind of how my rehab has gone," a pleased Posey said. "When I challenge it to do something new, things seem to go better."

The Giants still do not Posey scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on a particular date (not publicly, at least). But running and sliding are the last things on his rehab list. He's getting closer. Manager Bruce Bochy insinuated the other day that he could make his first game appearance by this weekend, though likely as a DH.

Posey estimated he ran "in the 60- to 70-percent range."

He also said when he is ready to play in a game, he'll be ready. Neither he nor the Giants are interested in slotting him into real competition with restraints, such as ordering him not to do certain things.

"When you're playing in a game, you've got to play the game," Posey said. "I feel like so much of my game is instincts, anyway ... when you're out there, instincts take over."

In a perfect world, Posey said, he would touch each base with his right foot as he circles them at full speed (he tore three ligaments in his left ankle and broke a bone in his lower left leg in the play at the plate against the Marlins last season). But it all depends where his stride is, he said, meaning he could touch a base with his left ankle, and that's where he's got to have both full healing and full confidence in the foot.

"I'm definitely itching to get into a game," he said. "At the same time, we're just four games in. Today's the fifth. I still think there's plenty of time."

Tuesday's running of the bases was the first for Posey in what he estimates is "a week to 10 days" in what has been an encouraging spring of work.

"Since the start of spring, I've been able to do all baseball activities," Posey said. "Catching, blocking, live batting practice, and everything's felt good.

"We knew from the time I was injured that running the bases would be the last thing to come, and [trainer Dave Groeschner] was right.

"I think we've been lucky. Everything has gone well."
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:05 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 6:12 pm
 

Hensley hopes to make different SF history

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hang around long enough, you never know where the wind will blow you next. And so it is for right-hander Clay Hensley, who is in camp attempting to win a job in the San Francisco bullpen.

The six-year veteran already has a place in Giants lore: He was the pitcher who served up Barry Bonds' record-tying 755th home run on Aug. 4, 2007.

"It's not something I want to be defined by," Hensley said Sunday morning. "I wasn't the first guy to give up a homer to him, and I wasn't the last guy.

"It's not that big a deal to me."

Maybe not, but Hensley's name will remain permanently stamped on the baseball trivia pages. Bonds' 755th, which tied home run king Hank Aaron, came in Petco Park of a game won by the Padres, 3-2. Bonds rifled a Hensley pitch over the left-field fence to tie Aaron, then hit record-setting No. 756 four nights later in San Francisco against the Nationals' Mike Bacsik.

Hensley, who went 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 37 games (nine starts) for the Marlins last year, signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Giants over the winter. He does not arrive as an unknown: The Giants drafted him in 2002 out of Lamar (Tex.) University, and Bruce Bochy was the Padres manager in two of Hensley's four seasons pitching in San Diego.

"Am I going to go around signing pictures of 755?" Hensley said good-naturedly Sunday. "Probably not. But I did get a nice bat out of it."

Yes, Bonds sent over a bat -- but not the bat.

Sunblock Day? A little on the cool side at 63 degrees (darn right that's cool, we have high expectations here), but mostly sunny and bright.

Likes: At a benefit in late January, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery and friends raised $60,000 for the Bryan Stow Fund. And attention Deadheads: Check out this cool video of Bob Weir and Flannery doing the Grateful Dead classic Friend of the Devil at the show. "Bob let me sing," Flannery said, beaming. ... Tim Lincecum, a ghostly shade of white, describing why he's happy to get out of Seattle and land in Arizona. "I need the sun. I mean, look at me." ... Totally charmed by Hugo, the Martin Scorsese 3-D flick. And I'm not much for 3-D. ... Go-to place for lunch during spring camp: Subway. It's quick, reasonably healthy and light enough that I can usually get in a late-afternoon run without paying for my lunch sins.

Dislikes: Bronx cheers to the Giants, who have told the nice lady named Kay, who sits outside of their spring clubhouse and checks media credentials, that she cannot read or knit while manning her post. Something about needing to be professional. It's spring training, for crying out loud. Besides, I was looking forward to learning what she was knitting this year.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"She must feel it's awkward
Oh, I said it's Arizona"

-- Arizona, Kings of Leon
Posted on: February 19, 2012 3:44 pm
 

Giants' Wilson hopes to be ready by March

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brian Wilson, the 24/7 personality who helped the Giants win the World Series and became a cult hero in the process, said Sunday that he hopes to be game-ready by the second week of Cactus League games.

The proclamation was notable for a couple of reasons. One, Wilson appeared in only six games after last Aug. 1 while battling a strained elbow. And two, he clammed up about the time his elbow went south, and he hadn't spoken publically in about seven months.

"I wasn't frustrated," Wilson said in a brief interview before San Francisco's first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It was nothing I could have controlled. I was never frustrated."

Wilson said he hopes to pitch in the second week of spring games, which would be the week of March 11. After leading the NL with 48 saves during the Giants' dream season of 2010, Wilson managed 36 last summer before succumbing to the elbow, just one more thing gone wrong in a season of bad news for the Giants.

Still, Wilson tried to pitch through the pain. After making four appearances between Aug. 5 and 15, he was shut down for a month, his next appearance coming on Sept. 18. But it was evident then that things weren't right, and he wound up pitching just one more game, Sept. 21, before being shelved.

"It's what I do," Wilson said of trying to push through the injury. "I don't ask for days off. I don't complain. I don't ask for a time out until I can take a breather."

Wilson said he feels good now and is hoping that he's given the elbow enough time to heal.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 7:19 pm
 

Riffs from the Hall of Fame voting

The 2012 Hall of Fame election -- by the numbers, and with the skinny. ...

Elected

Barry Larkin, 495 votes, 86.4 percent: Many numbers tell the tale, such as Larkin becoming the first 30/30 (homers/steals) shortstop in history. But how about in 1988, when he led the majors with only 24 strikeouts in 588 at-bats?

Maybe next year (or the year after)

Jack Morris, 382 votes, 66.7 percent: Great chance next year (which will cause massive coronaries in Sabermetric community), but he could run smack into wall via overloaded ballot that includes Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

Jeff Bagwell, 321 votes, 56 percent: Start forging plaque after big jump from 41.7 percent last year.

In need of GPS

Lee Smith, 290 votes, 50.6 percent: A decade on the ballot and it's like he's trapped in a Republican debate. No traction.

Tim Raines, 279 votes, 48.7 percent: Criminally unsupported for guy who ranks second all-time in stolen base percentage (300 minimum attepts), though up 11 percentage points over last year.

Edgar Martinez, 209 votes, 36.5 percent: Fighting the designated hitter uphill battle. If you don't have 3,000 hits, it helps to have worn a glove at some point during your career.

Alan Trammell, 211 votes, 36.8 percent: Heading in the right direction after 24.3 percent last year, but still undeservedly playing the "bye" to the voters' "good."

Fred McGriff, 137 votes, 23.9 percent: CSI investigators -- or are those PETA reps? -- checking for pulse as Crime Dog's 493 career homers get no love.

Larry Walker, 131 votes, 22.9 percent: Even the Canadian exchange rate doesn't favor Cooperstown.

Mark McGwire, 112 votes, 19.5 percent: Big Mac Fan Club not allowing new members. Remarkably consistent from last year's 115 votes, 19.8 percent.

Don Mattingly, 102 votes, 17.8 percent: Just three more years left on the ballot. Hope Donnie Baseball's managerial stint with Dodgers outlasts that.

Dale Murphy, 83 votes, 14.5 percent: A Hall of Fame man, and even if he can't be in Cooperstown, I hope baseball somehow involves him more.

Rafael Palmeiro, 72 votes, 12.6 percent: Did this guy or his career really exist? Outside of wagging a finger at Congress, I mean?

Bernie Williams, 55 votes, 9.6: To those who support Bernie and Jorge Posada: How about we just put every Yankee who played between, say, 1996 and 2001, into the Hall?

No soup -- or future ballots -- for you

Juan Gonzalez, 23 votes, 4 percent: The Rangers had a homecoming ... and no Hall of Fame supporters showed up for Juan-Gone.

Vinny Castilla, 6 votes, 1 percent: Six votes?!?! Vinny had one Hall of Fame moment. That came near the end of his career when he walked into the stadium past me as I was arguing with a security guard who wasn't buying my press pass, stopped, grinned, then approached me in the clubhouse wanting the scoop ... and complimenting me for getting in the guy's face so spiritedly.

Tim Salmon, 5 votes, 0.9 percent: Not Cooperstown worthy, but easily could join Dale Murphy in the all-time good guys' Hall.

Bill Mueller, 4 votes, 0.5 percent: The guy won a batting title (AL, 2003), but I think somebody mis-read Mueller's moving receipts for Hall votes.

Brad Radke, 2 votes, 0.3 percent: I'm assuming the two who voted for Bad Brad are refugees who watched him, incredibly, win 12 consecutive starts while going 20-10 for an absolutely miserable Twins team in 1997.

Javy Lopez, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Had the Braves allowed him to catch on nights when Greg Maddux started, he may have earned two votes.

Eric Young, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Very cool. Had no idea Eric Young's mother was in the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.

Jeromy Burnitz, 0 votes: Yeah, but he'll always have that starting berth for the NL in the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston on his resume.

Brian Jordan, 0 votes: Coincidentally, no votes for the NFL Hall of Fame, either.

Terry Mulholland, 0 votes: No votes, but gets points for being part-owner of the Dirty Dogg Saloon in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Phil Nevin, 0 votes: On the other hand, his managerial career (Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens) is taking off.

Ruben Sierra, 0 votes: Whatever happened to the Village Idiot?

Tony Womack, 0 votes: The New York precinct refused to consider him following that game-tying, Game 7 double against Mariano Rivera to set up Luis Gonzalez's game-winner in the 2001 World Series.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 7:47 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:57 am
 

Beltran talks hot, Indians now in mix

Carlos Beltran continues to sort through interest from at least five clubs -- maybe more -- and hopes to make a decision by Christmas, sources with knowledge of the discussions say.

The Cardinals, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Rays were all said to be "in the mix" on Wednesday, and talks were heating up. By Wednesday night, the Indians had joined them in serious talks with the free agent outfielder.

Beltran is said to have offers for both two and three years, with the dollars varying significantly. He earned $20 million last season in the final summer of a seven-year, $119 million deal.

At this point, the six-time All-Star appears to be weighing his preferred city (cities?) against average annual value (AAV) in yearly salary. The many American League clubs involved suggest that, at this point in his career, teams view Beltran more as a designated hitter than as an everyday outfielder.

While Beltran still prefers the outfield, one source close to him said Wednesday that he would be open to DH'ing part-time.

One team that probably would offer Beltran the most time in the outfield is St. Louis. The Cardinals have been aggressive all along, especially since Albert Pujols signed with the Angels. St. Louis figures to move Lance Berkman to first base and go with Allen Craig in right field, with Matt Holliday in left and Jon Jay in center field. Beltran could mix in both in center and right in a rotating Cardinals cast.

Beltran has intrigued the Blue Jays all winter -- enough, according to a source, that their pursuit remained unchanged after it was revealed this week that the Rangers had won the posting for Japanese free agent pitcher Yu Darvish. In other words, did the Blue Jays, who were believed to be knee-deep in the Yarvish bidding, up their ante after losing the pitcher? No, they've been aggressive all along.

In Toronto, Beltran projects more as a DH-type, because the Jays, of course, have Jose Bautista in right field and Colby Rasmus in center. As of now, they've got newly acquired Ben Francisco, Travis Snider or Eric Thames in left field. Beltran has played very little left field in his career.

The Red Sox have had an exceptionally quiet off-season, losing closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies and so far failing to add any significant pieces. They have been looking for a bat to lengthen their lineup, and with right-fielder J.D. Drew gone, Beltran makes some sense in Boston. Right field can be demanding in Fenway Park, however, with the configuration of the fence, and David Ortiz is back as the Red Sox DH.

Tampa Bay, on a tight budget, needs help at both first base and DH, where Johnny Damon got most of the at-bats last year.

The Indians have been scrounging around for ways to improve their offense all winter, and their late entry into the Beltran talks Wednesday added intrigue as the outfielder moves toward making a final decision. Cleveland has been a distant admirer before -- the Indians spoke with the Mets last July about acquiring him in a deal. Beltran had no-trade powers then and, eventually, approved a deal to San Francisco. The Giants talked about bringing him back early in the off-season but scotched that idea fairly quickly because of a tight budget.

Adding Beltran not only would give Cleveland another potent bat that it seeks, but also depth behind center fielder Grady Sizemore. Banged up severely in recent years, Sizemore has undergone five surgeries in the past two seasons, including one to fix a microfracture in his knee. The Indians are set at the corner outfield spots with Mickey Brantley and Shin Soo-Choo, and at DH with Travis Hafner.

Now 34, Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He's had serious knee issues in the past but was strong enough to produce an All-Star season in 2011.

The Rockies also were talking with Beltran, but earlier this week they signed former Minnesota Twin Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal.
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 am
Edited on: December 14, 2011 7:00 am
 

Rockies, Cards, Jays among those in on Beltran


The market for Carlos Beltran is heating up, with at least five clubs and possibly more seriously talking with the free agent outfielder. Among them, according to sources: The Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and, as CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday, the Colorado Rockies.

At least two other unidentified clubs are said to be engaged in talks with Beltran, with most of the clubs talking multi-year deals.

The Blue Jays' emergence as one of the clubs is noteworthy in that Toronto is in rebuilding mode and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made several moves this offseason already, notably acquiring outfielder Ben Francisco from the Phillies, closer Sergio Santos from the White Sox and catcher Jeff Mathis from the Angels. The Jays are set with Colby Rasmus in center field and slugger Jose Bautista, who finished third in this year's AL MVP voting, in right field.

Colorado has been surprisingly aggressive in the free agent market this winter and made a hard run at Michael Cuddyer, who late Tuesday night appeared to be closing in on ex-Twin status with Minnesota close to a deal with Josh Willingham. Willingham's deal, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Joe Christensen, is reported to be worth three years and $21 million. While the Rockies also talked with Willingham, multiple sources say that both Cuddyer and Beltran ranked higher on Colorado's wish list than him.

Beltran, 34, makes sense for the Cardinals, who are reeling in the aftermath of losing three-time MVP Albert Pujols to the Los Angeles Angels last week. Most likely, Lance Berkman will move to the infield and play first base for the Cardinals and, given their current scenario, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday would play the corner outfield spots and Jon Jay would play center field.

In that arrangement, however, the Cardinals wouldn't have much depth and the middle of their lineup might be thin.

Beltran batted .300 with 22 homers, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage in 142 games last summer for the Mets and Giants. He has had serious knee issues in his past but came back in 2011 to produce an All-Star season.

It is not yet clear which other clubs are in on Beltran. The Giants earlier this winter all but declared themselves out of the running because they expect to cap their payroll at $130 million in 2012. General manager Brian Sabean talked like they would stay in touch with Beltran but would not extend a large offer.

Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Giants' Sabean: 'I don't anticipate a big splash'

The news peg for the Giants on Tuesday was the ballclub extending the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013, with club options for 2014.

That order of business out of the way, understand this as the Giants charge full-speed ahead -- such as it is -- toward building their 2012 team this winter: Those fabled splash hits at AT&T Park are a far different thing from a big splash free agent signing.

"There won't be a big splash," Sabean said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "We are in concert through Larry Baer [club president] and our partnership that our pitching is our gold standard.

"Whatever we attempt, we have to make sure we take care of that commodity first."

San Francisco's clear goal this winter is to beef up an offense that ranked 29th in the majors in runs scored last summer.

But that also likely will not include another free agent, one who finished 2011 with the Giants: Outfielder Carlos Beltran.

"A lot of conversations," Sabean said. "We're going to have a conference-call update [internal] on where we're at after this call.

"I would say it's a fluid situation, as well as other situations we're in on."

Baer confirmed that the Giants expect to manage a 2012 payroll of about $130 million, up a tick from the $125 million at which San Francisco finished the season. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for normal arbitration raises, let alone free agency.

"The best way to phrase it is, he is a consideration but [length of contract] will be an issue with anybody we pursue," Sabean said of Beltran. "Whether it's him or anybody else. We have a very definitive game plan on each conversation on what we think is a reasonable length."

As they look to upgrade their offense, the logical areas for the Giants -- who already have traded for Melky Cabrera this winter -- are a corner outfield slot or shortstop. One thing Sabean and Bochy will hash out in the coming days is whether they think Brandon Crawford, who started last season at Class A San Jose, is capable of playing there every day in the majors.

Sabean watched Crawford in the Arizona Fall League and was impressed with Crawford's progress, however incremental.

"Around the end of the Fall League, he certainly was impressive," Sabean said. "I was able to see him in person quite a bit. We know what his glove brings. He's trying like hell to make adjustments at home plate. Albeit it's not major league pitching, but he's doing what we asked him to do -- put the ball in play, [swing at pitches] at the belt and below and stay off of the high fastball, which has been his kryptonite."

Crawford hit .204 with 22 runs scored in 64 games for the Giants last season. But unless Sabean can find a hidden gem, it sounds like he may get a real shot this spring. Forget Reyes, Jimmy Rollins right now isn't a fit in San Francisco's payroll.

"It's going to be a function of what's left in the payroll, and what the price point is," Sabean said of Rollins. "Any acquisition is in the eyes of the beholder. A sticker-shock-type, I don't anticipate a big splash. Or let's say a household name, per se."
 
 
 
 
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