SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Pablo Sandoval’s weight is an issue again this spring, even if the World Series MVP would rather not answer questions about it.
“I feel in shape,” said Sandoval, asked directly whether he was or not prior to Saturday’s first full-squad workout. “Who cares what other people say? I’m here to do my job.”
Sandoval’s job will include extra work – both before and after the team’s workouts. Giants manager Bruce Bochy delivered that message during a closed-door meeting. The club allowed Sandoval to play for Magallanes in the Venezuelan League, and he was named championship series MVP there, instead of immersing himself in a conditioning program as he did two winters ago.
While Sandoval might be in better baseball shape than some of his teammates, it’s clear that he’s carrying around more weight than he did last season.
“Like all the guys, we’ve got to get ourselves in game condition,” Bochy said. “Even though he’s been playing games, it’s fair to say he has to shed a few pounds, and he will. He has the time. He’s up there working as we speak.”
Is this an overblown issue, or is the question about Sandoval’s weight a legitimate one?
“I don’t know if that question will ever go away, to be honest,” Bochy said. “It seems for some guys, it’s a battle for them. He’ll be here early in the morning and he’ll be here after our workouts.”
The other day, I wrote that Kensuke Tanaka walked away from a guaranteed deal with the Nippon Ham Fighters for a chance to make the Giants as a non-roster player in camp. Turns out that contract with Nippon was worth $3 million, give or take.
It’s always a good sign when you’re working out on the main field for the first full-squad workouts. And Tanaka was there, alongside Marco Scutaro at second base.
(Wilson Valdez was the shortstop taking grounders with Brandon Crawford, and Joaquin Arias, who is a lock to make the club, was at third base with Pablo Sandoval. Brett Pill was stationed along with Brandon Belt at first base.)
Tanaka is competing for the job formerly held by Ryan Theriot, so it’s not absolutely vital that he play other positions besides second base. But that would certainly add to his versatility and value. Tanaka probably doesn’t have the arm to play shortstop but he’ll get a bit of exposure there, and likely even more at third base.
Along with Valdez and Tanaka, the other main competitor for the backup infield spot is Tony Abreu, a former top prospect with the Dodgers whom the Giants plucked off waivers. Abreu has a strained left quadriceps just above his knee, and was the one position player held out of the first full-squad workout as a precaution. He’s expected to get back on the field Monday or Tuesday, Bochy said.
Other backup infield candidates in camp include Nick Noonan and Brock Bond, two players who had solid seasons at Triple-A Fresno last year. Bond, 27, has a career .410 on-base percentage over six minor league seasons. He’s not really a prospect, but he has been a tough out his entire career and probably should have gotten a look in big league camp long before now. Bochy said he is looking forward to seeing him.
The Giants pushed back their schedule to pace their pitchers after four days of throwing off a mound. It’ll just be a light workout for pitchers with no mound work on Sunday. They’ll begin live batting practice on Monday.
The Dodgers announced Clayton Kershaw would start on opening day April 1 against the Giants at Dodger Stadium. But Bochy wasn’t ready to name his starter yet. Even though Ryan Vogelsong outpitched Kershaw on more than one occasion last year, it’s expected that Matt Cain will get the ball in the opener.
I was wondering how Omar Vizquel ended up as a roving infield coach for the Angels, a team for which he never played. Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times has the answer.
Those Giants coaches are a bunch of jokers. The schedule posted in the morning listed lunch at 12:30, and for once, it included a description of the menu: steak and lobster.
I didn’t graduate from Le Cordon Bleu, but that steak and lobster looked an awful lot like chicken fajitas to me.