Cabrera grateful for All-Star support


Cabrera grateful for All-Star support

SAN FRANCISCO Buster Posey led all NL players in All-Starvoting and Pablo Sandoval might have shocked the country by zooming past DavidWright to become the starting third baseman.

But both of them probably owe a debt to Melky Cabrera.

It was Cabrera who fell out of the top three among NLoutfielders when the penultimate vote totals were released last week. Giantsofficials responded by increasing the volume on their campaign and fansresponded by flooding the ballot box -- voting for other Giants along the way -- to ensure Cabrera would hopscotch reigningNL MVP Ryan Braun and reclaim a starting spot.

He did, and thats not all. Cabrera ended up leading all NLoutfielders. He garnered 7,521,784 votes. Only catcher Buster Posey receivedmore support on the entire NL ballot.

It resulted in Cabreras first All-Star selection. Its ameaningful honor for the 27-year-old, who played alongside so many perennialAll-Stars with the New York Yankees and was expected to become one himself.

Cabrera said he spoke with Yankees second baseman RobinsonCano on Saturday, and they both expressed hope theyd meet up in Kansas City.Coincidentally, thats where Cabrera broke out for his 201-hit season a yearago.

This is a business, said Cabrera, whom the Royals tradedfor left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and a prospect. They traded me and Imrepresenting the San Francisco Giants. Its due to all the hard work I put inand to the Giants for giving me an opportunity to play every day.

And to the Melk Men, of course. Cabreras crisply ironed fansection continues to be a visible presence at games. The Giants alsodistributed All-Star milk cartons with Cabreras likeness.

Of course I want to thank them, Cabrera said. Theyrepart of the fans. I want to thank the fans and thank the Melk Men for theirsupport.

Cabrera entered Sunday with a major league leading 109 hitsand 35 multi-hit games. He was tied for the major league lead with 11game-winning RBIs and his .350 average was third in the NL. Only the Pirates Andrew McCutchen had ahigher average than Cabreras .420 mark against left-handed pitchers.

Melky, what a year hes having, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. That was an easy one.

Cabrera entered the final week ranked fourth in balloting with 3,045,884 votes. He trailed Braun by less than 150,000. Cabrera ended up beating Braun by more than 2 million. He finished more than 1 million ahead of the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, who accumulated the second most votes among outfielders.

Cabrera's ability to play any of three outfield spots should be an asset to NLmanager Tony La Russa. In addition to Beltran, its likely that Braun, who was named as a reserve, will start alongside Cabrera in the outfield. Braun would appear to be an obvious choice to start in place of elected starter Matt Kemp, who is on the disabled list with a hamstring issue.

Giants lefty Will Smith elects for Tommy John surgery, out for season

Giants lefty Will Smith elects for Tommy John surgery, out for season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Will Smith has elected to have Tommy John surgery, leaving a gaping hole in the Giants' bullpen. Surgery, which will cost Smith at least a year, was the recommendation of both doctors Smith saw over the past week.

"It's not what I was hoping for, but we sat down and looked at the options and this makes the most sense," he said. "I'll miss the 2017 season and be ready full-tilt in 2018."

Smith missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned to the mound, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain. A second MRI revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki and flew to Los Angeles to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. Dr. ElAttrache will perform the surgery next week.

Smith said other options were discussed, but if stem cells or rehab failed, he would miss two full seasons.

"That was the deciding factor," he said. "Baseball is what I love to do. As soon as they said I could miss two years, that decided it for me. I can't miss two years. That's too big a roll of the dice."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford and catcher Andrew Susac. He finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bruce Bochy said Thursday. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one. 

Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before he left camp on March 6, Buster Posey was telling teammates and team officials that his involvement in the World Baseball Classic was a one-and-done deal. On Friday, Posey returned to camp with a new outlook.

"It's a great tournament," Posey said. "If you were able to do it in the actual Olympics, it would be even better. I just don't know how to do that other than shutting down the season. But after playing in this tournament, I would be up for that.

"If I had a chance to do it again, I think I would. If you had asked me that three weeks ago, I would have said I don't think I would. That's how much fun I had."

Posey, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon were greeted by one teammate after another Friday morning, many of them fellow Americans congratulating the group on helping lead Team USA to its first WBC title. Posey and Crawford, who missed most of March, had kept in touch with teammates via text, and some who reached out said they often got the same message back: "If you have a chance to do this, don't pass it up."

Posey and Crawford will be hitting their mid 30s the next time around. It's no lock that they're still in position to play, but they made the most of their experience this month. Crawford had 10 hits and played his usual stellar defense, earring new fans who don't watch his Gold Glove on a nightly basis. Posey hit a pair of long home runs in four starts. 

Most importantly, both of them returned healthy and ready to play Friday.

"I'm ready for some Cactus League!" Posey said, laughing.

Despite being gone for nearly three weeks, Posey hasn’t actually played that much this month. He started half of Team USA’s games but he was on the bench for the title game. He said that didn’t bother him. Manager Jim Leyland talked to Posey and Jonathan Lucroy before the tournament.

“Of course, as a competitor, you want to be in that game, but Lucroy is a great catcher and he did a great job with (Marcus) Stroman and the rest of the staff,” Posey said. “You can’t go wrong with having him out there.”

Asked if there was one player he enjoyed getting to know, Posey chose Lucroy, saying he has played against him for a long time but never really gotten to know him. He noted how sharp Luke Gregerson's two-seamer was from behind the plate and said he enjoyed catching Pat Neshek and Stroman. 

Team USA grew close over the course of the month, and got better and better as the tournament wore on. Posey said the foreign fans at the early games in Miami helped get the juices flowing, and once the action moved to San Diego, there were loud American fans joining the fray. Team USA defeated the Dominican Republic to get out of that round (Posey hugged Johnny Cueto on Friday morning and chanted “USA! USA!” as he walked off) and then beat Japan in the semis.

Wednesday night’s championship came via a blowout of Puerto Rico. Posey has won at every level, but the moment was not lost on him.

“It’s cliche but there is a certain amount of pride when you have your country’s name on your chest,” he said. “It’s a vibe you get. A lot of us come from different parts of the country and you get to go out and play the game the way you played as a child. It’s America’s pastime, and it was a fun tournament and experience. That made it fun to win it.”