Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

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Giants: First-half awards, highs, lows, etc.

FIRST HALF SURPRISESRyan Theriot
He looked cooked in the spring and couldnt hit a lick before landing on the DL with a bad elbow. Since returning, though, hes been a two-out hitting machine, stabilized the lineup in the No.2 spot and took the sting out of the news that Freddy Sanchez wont play this season.

Santiago Casilla
Until his last six outings, Casilla had a better save percentage, ERA and WHIP than Brian Wilson posted in the Bearded Ones best season as the Giants closer. Not bad for a guy plucked off the scrapheap a couple years ago, even if fans cant get behind the obscure Spanish-language Christian song he uses for his entrance tune.

Melky Cabrera
The Melk Man had 201 hits for the Royals last season and hit better than .300 from both sides of the plate, but the Giants merely hoped he could approach those numbers. Cabrera has exceeded them, and then some. Being named the All-Star Game MVP was icing on the cake.

FIRST HALF DISAPPOINTMENTSTim Lincecum
Hi, Timmy. Thanks for not signing that five-year, 100 million extension we offered you. Sincerely, the Giants.

Freddy Sanchez
Hes not going to play this season after back surgery. His shoulder hadnt allowed him to return to second base, anyway. A surprise? No. A disappointment? You bet. Thats 6 million the Giants cant use to boost the roster at the trade deadline.

Guillermo Mota
Done in by Dimetapp -- the kiddie version, so he claims. Hes eligible to return from his 100-game PED suspension at the end of August, and can begin working out with the team 20 days before that. Well see. In the meantime, no sniffling allowed.

THE HIGH POINT
We wont soon forget the sight of Melky Cabrera leaping against the wall, Gregor Blanco hurling his body into no-mans-land, Joaquin Arias throwing desperately across the full width of the diamond from flat feet -- and Cain, the longest tenured Giant, hooking the air triumphantly after throwing the 22nd perfect game in major league history. For evermore, June 13 will be Matt Cain day in San Francisco. He got a Samurai sword, too. Cool. Cain notched his feat against the Houston Astros. Its probably worth mentioning that his first start out of the break will come against you guessed it.

THE LOW POINT
What a cruel trick. A year to the day that Pablo Sandoval had surgery to remove a fractured right hamate bone in his right hand, the Panda was diagnosed with the same injury in his left paw. Call it the bane of the switch-hitter. The Giants already were five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers when Sandoval was diagnosed with the fracture May 3. He started on a tear, too, hitting safely in 21 of his first 22 games and smacking a team-high five home runs. Without Sandoval, the Giants went 16 consecutive home games (more than 500 at-bats in all) bereft of a home run -- the longest in San Francisco-era history, and the longest by any major league team since the 1990 Houston Astros. Yet the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp, too, and the Giants managed a 21-14 record while Sandoval healed. At least hell never fracture another hamate again.

FIRST HALF MVP
Cabrera owns a major league-leading 119 hits, the title of top vote-getter among NL All-Star outfielders, the All-Star Game MVP award and his own freshly starched, bow-tie wearing fan club. The Melk Men are a hit at AT&T Park in their 50s-era delivery uniforms, and lately the ratio has improved with the addition of a few comely Milk Maidens. Cabrera has them in a froth over his hitting, but his excellent, smart baserunning, his left field defense and a cannon-strong left arm have inspired cheers as well.
FIRST HALF LVP
If Lincecum were merely pitching below his standards, the Giants would be threatening to run away with the NL West. Even a 9-9 record in his starts would have the Giants at 51-35 -- a record that would pace the NL and give them a 4 -game lead over the Dodgers. Instead, the Happy Lincecum Day is a faded memory. The Giants are 4-14 in his starts, hes thrown quality outings just four times in 18 assignments and hes already allowed three more earned runs than he did all last season. On the road, its been nothing but tractor marks on his slender backside. He has a 9.00 ERA away from AT&T Park. Thats contributed to a staff road ERA of 4.69 that ranks 25th among the 30 major league clubs -- even higher than the horror-show Colorado Rockies. (At home, the Giants 2.42 ERA is second best in the majors.)

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

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AP

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with three more veterans on Friday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Eduardo Nuñez, left-hander Will Smith and right-hander George Kontos.

Financial details were not immediately available. MLB Trade Rumors' projections put Nuñez at about $4.4 million, Smith at about $2.3 million, and Kontos at about $1.7 million. The Giants reached deals with all six arbitration eligible players this offseason. 

Nunez, acquired last summer, will enter camp as the starter at third base. He posted a .269/.327/.418 slash line and 12 stolen bases after coming over from the Twins.

Smith was also acquired before the trade deadline, and he had a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances for the Giants. He is expected to play a pivotal role in setting up for new closer Mark Melancon. 

Kontos has long been Bruce Bochy's most reliable reliever in the middle innings and he could move to a higher-leverage role in a revamped bullpen. He had a 2.53 ERA in 2016, his fifth season with the Giants.

The Giants had previously reached one-year deals with Cory Gearrin, Ehire Adrianza and Conor Gillaspie. They have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when a deal could not be reached with A.J. Pierzynski.