Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener


Big test looms for Posey; status unclear for spring opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Buster Posey isnt certain when hison-again, off-again schedule will ramp up into everyday baseball work. But heknows that one major test looms for his reconstructed left ankle.He still hasnt run the bases all-out.Baserunning is a point of emphasis this spring for theGiants as they hope to take advantage of their athleticism. Most of theposition players were on the field working on getting jumps a full 90 minutes beforeTuesdays workout was due to start.But Posey wasnt among them. Although he has run the basesas part of his rehab work, he hasnt tried the quick turns and cuts that everyhitter must make when they line a double to the gap.

Yeah, that will be important, Posey told me. Just because of the pounding youre putting on it. Werehappy with how everything is feeling but youre right. That will be a big test.For now, Posey continues to catch bullpens and participatefully in workouts every other day. He was back in shinguards on Tuesday,receiving Barry Zito as the left-hander faced hitters in live batting practice. Then Posey took his swings against Guillermo Mota and Brian Burres, and hit a deep fly ball to the warning track.Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he continues to operateday-to-day with Posey, but the baserunning test is one his celebrated catcher will have to passbefore he could be cleared to start Saturdays Cactus League opener againstArizona.The Giants strongly prefer to have Posey behind the plate on Saturday, knowing the lift his presence would give the club. His absence, which would be viewed as a setback by others, could have the opposite effect. But they will not let emotion sway the decision if they decide Posey needs more time.
Bochy also remained non-committal on whether Tim Lincecumwould start on Saturday, saying he and pitching coach Dave Righetti might tweakthe schedule.

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

AN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Pharmacies and beauty stores across Puerto Rico are running out of hair dye with even a top economist joining men going blond in support of the island's baseball players who bleached their hair ahead of the World Baseball Classic.

What began as a joke among team members playing in California has spread across the island in a trend that spiked Tuesday just hours after Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands in 11 innings to reach the championship game undefeated in the tournament, which is held every four years. Puerto Rico will play Wednesday night in the final against the United States, which defeated Japan.

"Ever since they began winning, this has not stopped," said Myrna Rios, a manager at a Sally Beauty Supply store in the capital of San Juan. "We have run out of the product in most of our stores."

Copper blond, platinum blond, golden blond - all shades of blond (even burnt orange) are turning heads in a U.S. territory where the majority of men have thick, dark hair. Bald men dyed their beards or goatees in a nod to Puerto Rico coach Carlos Delgado.

"We have been able to unite our country with our blond hair," said star Carlos Correa, who hit a two-run homer and scored the winning run against the Netherlands. "That's what we want as players to unite our country, our people, and give them the best."

Men ranging from news anchors to university students to professionals have embraced a trend that has sparked the rallying cry of "Team Rubio!" or "Team Blond" in Spanish.

Among them is civil engineer Christian Rodriguez, who dyed his beard Saturday after visiting four different pharmacies to find the product he needed. At first, he didn't dye his hair as well because he thought it would be too much at church on Sunday. But he noticed six male churchgoers had dyed their hair blond and decided to take the plunge, calling a hair stylist friend to help him go platinum.

Rodriguez complained of an intense burning sensation during the two-hour process and sent pictures to his wife, who responded with the emoticon of a monkey with its eyes covered.

"Anything for my island!" he said as he lifted his arm to cheer the team.

Rodriguez then sent a picture of his dyed hair to his mechanic, who responded with a selfie taken underneath a car of him smiling with a bleached beard.

Puerto Rico's undefeated run to the championship has boosted the spirit of an island mired in a decade-long recession that faces a rocky recovery amid looming austerity measures for its government. Even young students have been sporting blond do's, prompting public schools to suspend them until the island's education secretary stepped in and said in a letter made public Tuesday that they should be allowed to dye their hair during the tournament.

"We wanted to do this to unite the team, and then the people of Puerto Rico, they started dying their hair, too," pitcher Edwin Diaz said. "I saw that there were some students that were suspended from school. I think they shouldn't be doing that because it just means that we have united our nation."

Even the prominent Puerto Rico-based economist Sergio Marxuach joined the trend, sporting yellow hair as he walked into a seminar in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, drawing laughs.

"My youngest son asked me, 'Why did you paint your hair like Donald Trump?'" he recalled with a laugh. "If this team can give us hope, we're going to need it given what's coming down the pipe."

Barry Bonds: Returning to Giants 'what I'm supposed to do'

Barry Bonds: Returning to Giants 'what I'm supposed to do'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Barry Bonds is on Twitter and Instagram, but he said the only social media app he truly embraces is Strava, a network for running and cycling enthusiasts. You can keep track of his passion for cycling there, Bonds said, and it’s never hard to know where he’s been or where he’s headed. 

The Giants hope that app shows frequent rides to AT&T Park for years to come. A day after he was announced as a special advisor to CEO Larry Baer, Bonds officially joined the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.

“It’s my home,” he said. “I want to be back at home. I want to help our community, our team, San Francisco, the Giants, the younger guys and younger players. You keep the tradition alive. It’s the same thing my father has done, my godfather has done, (Willie McCovey) has done. It’s the right thing to do. I’m in San Francisco, raised there, and I want to help our community kids become Giants, and good ones.”

The process started Wednesday, with Bonds kicking off a weeklong run as an instructor. In his opening hours, he made it clear that this is what his passion is, seemingly closing the door on another stint in a more involved role. His time as Marlins hitting coach lasted just one year, and Bonds said he “likes this role better.”

“I want to help out the whole organization,” he said. “I want to help the younger guys that are coming up through the organization and the guys who are here in the organization. I like this role better, to stand with the coaches. I’m here for whatever Bam Bam (Meuelens) wants me to do. If he wants me to do something or he thinks there’s a player I can talk to, I go based on that.”

Bonds said he took the job in Miami because he felt that was what his father would want him to do. “You go in the dungeon with everyone else,” Bonds said. He said he’s grateful that the Marlins gave him the opportunity, and while the reviews were mixed, Bonds found some highlights in his time there. He said Wednesday that he took part in a hitting contest one day because the team opposing Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich needed one more bat. Bonds and Stanton, currently the most powerful player in baseball, tied in home runs. Bonds, the all-time home run king, won in a tiebreaker round.

“If you challenge me,” Bonds said, smiling, “You will lose.”

Hundreds of pitchers found that out over his 22 seasons in the big leagues. Bonds holds Major League records with 762 career homers and 73 in one season, and he retired with a .444 on-base percentage, 2,935 hits, 1,996 RBI and 514 stolen bases. He is a 14-time All-Star and seven-time National League MVP, but his Hall of Fame candidacy has been dogged by a steroid cloud that has kept other sluggers of his era from induction. Bonds made progress last year, getting to 53.8 percent, but he has only five more years to bridge the gap to 75 percent. Asked about the Hall of Fame results on Wednesday, Bonds said he doesn’t have any answers that are different than what he’s said in the past.

“To keep talking about it doesn’t do any good,” he said. 

At AT&T Park, there’s no doubt about the level of support Bonds will receive. He remains wildly popular, and his return to the organization is expected to be followed in short order by a Wall of Fame ceremony and the retiring of the No. 25. At some point, Bonds is expected to get a statue outside the park. 

For now, he’ll focus on being an ambassador and instructor. He said he will attend the annual Play Ball Luncheon later this month and any other events the Giants put on his schedule. He lives within walking — or biking — distance of the ballpark, and said he can be in the clubhouse in under 10 minutes if his assistance is needed. If the Giants ask him to visit Double-A Richmond or Low-A Augusta, he's up for it. 

“Sometimes you need to get away from the game as a player and regroup and think about all that’s gone on and what’s gone on around you,” he said. “You need time to mature and realize what’s best for you, and I’ve been away now for quite some time. I had the opportunity to coach the Marlins and stuff, and I really feel like this is what I’m supposed to do.”