EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Time to start 'MVP' chant for Posey, etc.

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO Here are the numbers that Buster Posey ownssince the All-Star break:

A .439 average. Fifty hits in 114 at-bats. Ten doubles andnine homers, too. And 35 RBIs in 32 games.

If he were playing his own video game, hed have accumulatedenough sunflower seeds to buy a riding lawnmower. (If that reference sounds bizarre, you haven't downloaded "Buster Bash.")

Posey was 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and an RBI doubleSaturday night, continuing to smoke one pitch after another to right field asonly he can.

When he lasered another to right in the ninth inning, hehustled another double out of it. He didnt let up even as the Giants wereleading 7-5, and even though he already had caught five pitchers on a warmnight at Petco Park.

Its a good thing Posey kept playing all out. He was able toscore on Hunter Pences double, and that run proved invaluable when the Giantswere pushed to the limit before escaping with an 8-7 victory.

Lets also recall that Posey threw out Cameron Maybin tryingto steal second base in the second inning an inning in which the Padresloaded the bases with no outs against Barry Zito, yet only squeezed one run outof it. Poseys throw minimized that threat.

It was somewhere between that throw and that hustle doublein the ninth that I realized: Posey truly is, at this moment, the most valuableplayer in the National League. As amazing as Andrew McCutchen has been for thePirates, Posey has transformed himself into a dominant presence in the middleof the Giants lineup while also contributing at the most important defensivespot on the diamond.

You could make up a nice spreadsheet and compare Posey toMcCutchen in every statistical category. Im sure McCutchens WAR is justdandy.

But every MVP candidacy is built on a narrative, too. And what a story would it be if the Giants, led by Posey in the middle of theirlineup, persevered to win the NL West without Melky Cabrera. What would it tell youif the Giants suddenly lost the player who was leading the major leagues inhits and runs scored, then managed to stay in first place over the final 45games?

It would say that Poseys impact is undeniable. And hisvalue is inestimable.

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Good lord. Posey has 50 hits since the All-Star break.

And yes, I know I already mentioned that once.

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I didnt need to ask Bruce Bochy if Posey would becatching Sunday afternoons series finale in San Diego. If Bochy had planned torest Posey, he wouldve given him his break Saturday night and had Hector Sanchezwork with Barry Zito. When Posey was in the lineup to catch Zito, you knew hewould play the following day, too.

Sure enough, Bochy said Posey would be in there.

The Giants faced a left-hander Saturday and theyll getanother on Sunday. Cabrera, its been noted, had the third highestaverage against lefty pitchers of any major league hitter. He was hitting .395.

Posey ranked second. He entered the game at .423.

So as the Giants look to find a consistent lineup againstlefties, youd better believe Posey will be a part of it.

And, as he said after Saturdays game, Regardless, at thispoint in the year, its time to push it a little more. I want to be out thereas much as possible.

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Pablo Sandoval will be back in Sundays lineup as well, eventhough he did more running than a refrigerator with a bad seal.

He tripled, slid with a thud when he scored on a sacrificefly, then had another inelegant slide when he scored from second base on asingle.

His strained hamstring survived intact.

I dont think twice. I just go, Sandoval said of his triple.

But he acknowledged that third base looked off in thedistance as he picked up coach Tim Flannery.

I see the base so far, he said, smiling. Its likeFlannery pulled the base out.

Sandoval said he was still 90 percent.

What about Sunday? Maybe 91

Still 90, he said, smiling and exhaling.

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In minor league news, Heath Hembree is moving back to Triple-A Fresno after five hitless innings for Single-A San Jose. The Giants wanted Hembree to start out slow at San Jose after missing more than a month with a strained flexor mass in his forearm.

I don't think Hembree will be a candidate to close for the Giants this season. But if he's healthy and effective, and if the reports are good over the next several weeks, then absolutely the Giants will be open-minded to bringing him up in September.

One other minor league note: For the first time in his pro career, Gary Brown started a game someplace other than center field Saturday night. He started in left field and Juan Perez was in center for Double-A Richmond. I'm not sure what that means, but GM Brian Sabean said just the other day he didn't envision Brown playing in the big leagues this season. Anyway, the situation bears watching.

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What has been the key for the Giants offense while scoring18 runs in two games at Petco Park?

They arent striking out. Before Angel Pagan got rung up inthe sixth, the Giants didnt have a strikeout in Saturdays game.

Thats a beautiful thing for Bochy, who was so frustratedearlier in the season when the Giants failed to make contact in RBI situations.They simply arent enough of a power team to justify all those strikeouts, hesaid.

Weve talked about it. Weve discussed it, Bochy said. Theyrefighting up there more. Theyre doing a better job of putting the ball in play,cutting down their swing. We had to cut down in that department. And the guys reallyhave made a concerted effort to do that.

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As mentioned elsewhere in our coverage, Bochy had a quickhook with Barry Zito. He said having a 13-man staff allows him to do that.

The next item to note: Will Bochy have a similar hook withTim Lincecum the rest of the way?

Im guessing ... yes.

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

NEW YORK -- Tyson Ross, an All-Star pitcher for San Diego two years ago, was among 35 players who became free agents when their teams declined to offer them 2017 contracts on Friday.

Washington outfielder Ben Revere and Philadelphia outfielder Cody Asche also were cut loose, along with Arizona catcher Welington Castillo and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa; Baltimore pitcher Vance Worley; and Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Louis Coleman.

Milwaukee first baseman Chris Carter and Pittsburgh pitcher Jeff Locke were non-tendered as well; their teams had already designated them for assignment earlier this week.

Teams cut players at the tender deadline to avoid committing to salary arbitration, in which about one-sixth of next season's salary is guaranteed.

Ross, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 2014 and 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA the following season. He was limited to one major league appearance this year and had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery time was expected to be four to six months, and the Padres deemed him too pricy for arbitration after he earned $9,625,000 this year.

Asche, 26, was designated for assignment earlier Friday to clear a roster spot for left-hander David Rollins, claimed off waivers from Texas. Asche hit .240 with 31 homers and 125 RBIs for the Phillies during 371 games in the past four seasons and would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time.

The 28-year-old Revere was acquired from Toronto in January for reliever Drew Storen but strained his right oblique in his first at-bat of the season, left after four innings and went on the disabled list. Revere returned May 6, hit just .217 with two homers and 24 RBIs in 103 games and would have been on track for a raise from his $6.25 million salary.

Castillo batted .264 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs and would have gotten a big raise from his $3.7 million salary.

Giants tender contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players

Giants tender contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants tendered contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players on Friday, agreeing to one-year contracts with two of them. 

Right-hander Cory Gearrin will get $1.05 million and infielder Ehire Adrianza will receive $600,000, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The Giants will exchange figures with George Kontos, Will Smith, Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie. They traditionally have avoided going to actual arbitration hearings. 

Gearrin, Kontos and Smith will make up a chunk of the bullpen next season, while Nunez is expected to start at third base. Gillaspie, the postseason hero, should see more playing time and Adrianza is currently slated to return in his familiar bench role. 

The day was smoother for the Giants than other NL West teams. The Diamondbacks non-tendered Welington Castillo and Rubby De La Rosa and the Padres later sent mini shockwaves through the market by non-tendering former ace Tyson Ross, who is coming off a season lost to injury. Ross was one of six Padres to be let go, a list that included former Giant Hector Sanchez.