Back surgery for Freddy Sanchez, Giants career likely over

754770.jpg

Back surgery for Freddy Sanchez, Giants career likely over

WASHINGTON -- Second baseman Freddy Sanchez had surgery Thursday to remove a portion of a disc in his lower back, ending any chance of returning this season and likely bringing an abrupt conclusion to his career as a Giant.

The Giants medical staff said Sanchez's micro discectomy, which was performed by spinal specialist Dr. Robert Watkins, went as anticipated.

"Well, he's out for the year," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's been a long road for Freddy. I know he's disappointed. He certainly played a critical role in our success in 2010. He helped us win a World Series."

Sanchez signed a 6 million extension last year; he will be a free agent after this season. Bochy indicated there could be some interest in re-signing Sanchez in some form or another, although the back injury combined with shoulder problems makes that possibility very, very hazy.

"You don't know what happens when the season's over," Bochy said. "We still remain optimistic optimistic, but this is a definite that we won't have him all year."

Sanchez, 34, hasn't played since June 10th of last season when he went 1-2 with a single. The former batting champion dislocated his shoulder while diving for a ground ball up the middle. He tried to rehab the shoulder injury for two months before undergoing surgery to trim his damaged labrum and tighten the capsule.

Although Sanchez pledged to be ready by opening day, he wasn't able to stay on a throwing schedule in spring training and couldn't make throws across his body to turn double plays. Sanchez had tried moving to third base in late April, but his back began bothering him and made it impossible to return to baseball activities.

The Giants pieced together second base for most of April with Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Theriot, who struggled to play through an elbow injury. But after a stint on the DL allowed Theriot to get healthy, he's established himself as a solid everyday player and No. 2 hitter.

Sanchez spent most of his Giants career on the DL after the club acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline in 2009. But he will remain a part of Giants lore for his strong second half in 2010, and moreso, for his deeds in the postseason as the franchise won its first World Series in the San Francisco.

Most notably, Sanchez became the first player in major league history to hit three doubles in his first World Series game. Even more important was his two-out, ninth-inning single in Gmae 3 of the NLDS at Atlanta, which kept the game alive. Aubrey Huff followed with a tying single and the Giants won on Brooks Conrad's error.

Although the Giants didn't play an elimination game in 2010, they never came closer to having their backs against the wall than when hard-throwing reliever Craig Kimbrel was 0-2 against Sanchez. He ended up guiding a 1-2 pitch up the middle.

"That base hit is one I'll always remember," Bochy said. "That would've made it a lot tougher if we lost that game."

Sanchez was a three-time All-Star with the Pirates and hit .344 to win the NL batting crown in 2006.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

nunez-scores-braves-usa.jpg
USATSI

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Johnny Cueto pitched six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. The two-time All-Star was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

The Giants scored their first run in the first inning on a passed ball by Kurt Suzuki, who was handling Dickey's knuckleballs.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks.

Giants catcher Buster Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left the game in the top of the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." . Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. Teheran is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P