Buster Posey receives NL MVP trophy
Pablo Sandoval has two home runs and four RBI in the young 2013 season. (AP IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO – Pablo Sandoval hit a home run and lined a two-out RBI single on Saturday. He leads the Giants with four of the club’s 11 RBIs. He looks to be past the irritated nerve in his elbow that nearly put him on the disabled list to start the season.
He’s feeling comfortable at the plate, right?
“You want me to tell the truth?” he said. “I feel a little lost.”
Sandoval is the closest thing to locked in that the Giants have right now. He hit a two-run homer at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. But he isn’t satisfied with his swing. Not after missing those two weeks at the end of spring training.
How does he define “lost?”
“When I miss the fastball down the middle,” he said. “When I feel good, I don’t miss those pitches. But I’m trying hard to get the feeling back.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that he expects the Giants to hit more home runs than last year, when they became the first team since the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals to make the playoffs while hitting the fewest longballs in the major leagues.
They scored the most runs on average per road game than any team other than the Angels. But they hit just 31 homers in 81 games at AT&T Park.
Sandoval and Hunter Pence hit solo shots Saturday. The Giants received multiple homers in just five of 81 regular-season home games last season.
“I think we will see a little more power with this club as a group,” Bochy said. “It’s early, but there’s no doubt in my mind this club will have more power than last year.”
Pence has been remarkably consistent in the power department. Beginning in 2008, he's hit 25, 25, 25, 22 and 24 home runs per season. Even in a spacious home park, I think this is the year he tops 30.
One guy who hasn’t gone deep since 2013 is Buster Posey. (Game 4 in Detroit off Max Scherzer, in case you've forgotten.) Posey didn’t hit a home run all spring, and although his double struck high off the right field bricks in the eighth inning Saturday, he hasn’t been turning on many pitches.
It’s way too soon to sound any alarms. But it does bear watching.
I saw Posey working hard on his MVP acceptance speech Saturday morning and it showed. He was efficient yet thorough, saying just the right thing about each group of people he thanked. And he did it right by ending with the fans.
“Your support and passion for this team is nothing short of amazing,” he said. “And I think I speak for all my teammates that I look forward to coming here and playing every day and I hope we make you proud.”
One of Jeff Kent’s remarks drew a pretty loud cheer, too:
“You are going to be entertaining these people for a long time buddy, so good luck,” Kent said.
Even when the story of the day was the breaks that didn’t go the Giants’ way in a 6-3 loss to the Cardinals, Posey made sure not to simplify the angle.
“I don’t like to say `lucky breaks’ because those guys are fighting off tough pitches and putting the ball in play,” Posey said. “Give them credit for that.”
It was telling that the Cardinals, who disappeared back up the tunnel Friday when the Giants raised the World Series banner, were nearly all assembled on the rail of the visiting dugout during Posey’s MVP ceremony. And when Posey was announced and handed his award by the dashing Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area, nearly all the Cardinals players applauded.
“I don’t know what the perfect package is as a player,” said Bochy, “but I do know Buster is as close as I’ve ever seen.”
When your opponents recognize that too, it’s special.
Ryan Vogelsong couldn’t throw to Posey because of the ceremony. So he had Guillermo Quiroz warm him up. He said that made no impact on him as he struggled to find his bearings in the first inning, though.
[BAGGS: Breaks go against Vogelsong, Giants]
Vogelsong was more involved in Friday’s ceremonies, obviously. He said when the group of six Giants climbed to the top of the stairs in the center field bleachers, Matt Cain handled Vogelsong the flag and told him to carry it the rest of the way.
“I’m very thankful and honored he did that for me,” Vogelsong said.
He affixed one corner while Tim Lincecum affixed the other. They did the job with little delay, even though neither of them had ever hung a flag before.
“Well, I was just scared we were going to hang it upside down,” he said.