Sandoval won't complain about squat

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Sandoval won't complain about squat

PHOENIX Giants closer Brian Wilson bent his ear as reportersapproached Pablo Sandoval to ask about catching in the bullpen again.

Oh, sweet, Wilson said. Catch me.

The Giants might start off the Panda with an easierassignment. But yes, they will ask him to find some gear (he doesnt have any)and get back in the squat for the first time since 2009.

Sandoval changed his no chance stance from FanFest. Hesays hell do as asked.

If they need me, Ill be in there, the Giants opening daythird baseman said. Its gonna be tough when you get two or three years notcatching. You have to be ready to catch two bullpens in one day to make sure Imfine. But I dont get mad. Its part of the team and if I have to do it, Illdo it for sure.

Bochy approached Sandoval on Thursday about starting tocatch bullpens. The Giants are going with Hector Sanchez as the lone backupbehind Buster Posey, who figures to need his share of days off (or at firstbase) as the Giants ease him back into action following major ankle surgery.

The Giants also want to use Sanchezs switch-hitting bat offthe bench an impossibility unless they have another viable emergency optionto catch in case something happens.

Sandoval knows his ability to catch is part of what helpedthe coaching staff and front office decide to put Sanchez on the roster. So hescool with it.

Hes a great guy, Sandoval said of his fellow Venezuelan. Heslike me. When I got to the big leagues, I looked just like him. Just go out anddont think, just swing the bat.

Did Sandoval miss anything in the last three years when hedidnt catch?

Nothing! he said, followed by peals of laughter. If Icatch here, the next day Ill be super sore. I know that.

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler leaves Cubs, signs $82.5 million deal with Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- Dexter Fowler is headed from the World Series champions to their biggest rival.

After helping the Chicago Cubs end their long championship drought, he finalized an $82.5 million, five-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. Fowler fills the last big hole left in the Cardinals lineup after moves made earlier in the offseason to shore up the bullpen.

"It was an honor just to be considered to be in the Cardinals organization," said Fowler, who will wear No. 25 in honor of his mentor, Barry Bonds, because his usual 24 is retired by the Cardinals.

"You play against the Cardinals, I've been playing against them for eight years now," Fowler said, "and they always come out fighting. Always fighting. And then being with a rival, being the Cubs however many times we play them a year, you see them and - it's always good a winning team wants you."

Fowler was also a free agent a year ago, when he spurned a $33 million, three-year offer from Baltimore, who refused to offer an opt out after one year, and signed a $13 million, one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .276 with 13 homers and a career-best .393 on-base percentage that landed him in his first All-Star Game, then had a pair of home runs in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title in 108 years.

"Playing over there, and playing against the Cardinals, you see them and you saw that they weren't far away," Fowler said. "Obviously they beat up on us, we beat up on them. It was almost even. It was one day or another. I can't put my finger on one thing or another, but we're definitely close."

His new deal calls for a $10 million signing bonus, payable in $1 million installments each July 1 and Oct. 1 for the next five years, and annual salaries of $14.5 million.

He gets a full no-trade provision, $50,000 bonuses for making the All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove, a $25,000 bonus for a Silver Slugger, $100,000 for League Championship Series MVP and $150,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $250,000 for NL MVP, $150,000 for finishing second in voting and $100,000 for third through fifth. He would get $50,000 for Division Series MVP if the award is created.

One of the goals this offseason for St. Louis was to get more athletic, both defensively and on the base paths. Fowler was identified early in the process as someone who filled that role.

"He was always someone we were hoping to sign," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said, "but after this past week at winter meetings ... we certainly wanted to get this done. And we're excited we got this done."

The lanky 30-year-old from Atlanta is a .268 career hitter over nine seasons with Colorado, Houston and the Cubs. He's expected to slot into the Cardinals' leadoff spot, giving St. Louis a switch-hitter in front of lefty-hitting Matt Carpenter and righties Aledmys Diaz, Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina.

"You obviously have great presence at the top of the lineup," manager Mike Matheny said. "The athleticism, the excitement of bringing in a player that has all those physical attributes, I think it's been well-said, this is the guy we were hoping to be sitting up here with."

Fowler said negotiations with the Cardinals were easy with one notable exception.

"We were on a 2-hour time difference, and I guess he wanted to get in touch with me," Fowler said, "but I was in the dentist chair, so he couldn't get in touch."

So, Fowler sent his agent Casey Close a photo of him to pass along to Mozeliak - "That was a first for me, that kind of photo," the GM said - and everything proceeded smoothly after that.

The news of his signing started breaking while Fowler was on a plane to St. Louis, and that also created some problems: namely, with his sleep. People started coming up to him while he was trying to take a nap and asking him whether the news was true.

"I was like, 'Uh, you know, I don't know,'" Fowler said with a grin. "It was definitely funny."

Fowler is eager to help the Cardinals add their 12th World Series championship.

"This is a baseball city," said Fowler. "The fans, every time you come here, you see red everywhere. That's awesome to see. Even going through our parade (in Chicago), you saw Cardinals fans out there. They've won World Series (and) they're poised to be back in the World Series and win again. That was a big part of my decision."

The Cardinals were investigating the trade market for an outfielder during the winter meetings, but decided Fowler was their best option. Because Fowler did not accept Chicago's $17.2 million qualifying offer, St. Louis forfeits its top draft pick next June, No. 18 overall, and the Cubs get an extra selection after the first round as compensation

It was a sacrifice the Cardinals were willing to make to not only improve their lineup, but snag a piece away from their biggest rival in the NL Central.

"There's always the baseball angle in all decisions, but there's also the human element," Mozeliak said. "We think about him as a leader. He wants to have a voice in that clubhouse. When you think back to wanting to change the culture of what we have going on - we like what we have, but now it's even better."

Giants' 2015 first-round draft pick suspended 50 games

Giants' 2015 first-round draft pick suspended 50 games

Former Giants pitching prospect Phil Bickford is suspended for the first 50 games of the 2017 Carolina League season for a second positive test for drug of abuse, MLB announced on Friday.

Before the 2016 deadline, San Francisco traded the 21-year old (along with Andrew Susac) to the Brewers in exchange for left-handed reliever Will Smith.

The Giants selected Bickford with the 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Over 11 starts for Single-A Augusta last year, the right-hander went 3-4 with a 2.70 ERA.

In six starts for Single-A San Jose, he went 2-2 with a 2.73 ERA.