EXTRA BAGGS: Melky Cabrera returning to Kansas City?

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EXTRA BAGGS: Melky Cabrera returning to Kansas City?

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MIAMI Melky Cabrera prefers to use a translator in formalinterviews, and Emmanuel Burriss happened to be the bilingual teammate within aSpanish-English dictionarys length of him after Thursday nights victory.

So after Cabrera turned in another three-hit game, I proceeded to ask a fairlyinnocuous icebreaker: Have you felt really comfortable at the plateall year?

Oh, no, no, dont answer that! Burriss said. Let me. Iwill, I will. Ill answer it.

Burriss looked me in the eye.

Yes.

Burriss was only slightly placated when Iagreed to tap Cabreras wooden locker.

You dont ask that! he said.

The answer is yes, of course. Yes to all of it. Yes toCabrera being the savior for a Giants offense that has dead production zones atthree or four infield positions every night. Yes to the trade with the KansasCity Royals looking so lopsided, Dayton Moore might never take another callfrom Brian Sabean. And yes to Cabrera returning to Kansas City to represent theGiants in the All-Star Game.

The Giants didnt have a four-RBI game from anyone allseason. Cabrera and Angel Pagan each drove in four in Thursdays 14-7 victory.

Cabrera leads the majors with 67 hits and 22 multi-hitgames. Hes on a pace for 241 hits, which would be the most by National Leagueplayer since Bill Terry for the 1930 New York Giants. (Terry, a Hall of Famer, had 254 hits that season.)

And then you think of that miraculous throw from left fieldin Milwaukee. And then you notice how Cabrera made an instant read to score thetying run from second base on Pagans jam-shot single in the fourthinning.

I just knew off the bat it was hit good and in the rightspot, Cabrera said, fielding a question that Burriss allowed him to answer. Ididnt need to hesitate at all.

Cabrera is hitting .361, and the most impressive part isthat his average isnt the most impressive part. Its amazing what happens whenyou mix talent, intelligence, instincts, focus and dedication.

Melkys just unbelievable, said Ryan Vogelsong, who justmight join Cabrera in Kansas City in July. Hes done nothing but impresseverybody in this locker room from the day he got here.

Still, there are 117 games on the schedule. Theres a reasonthe words on pace dont mean a lot in May. But the early returns, at least,would favor the notion that Cabreras 201-hit campaign for the Royals last yearwas no flash in the cooking implement of your choice.

Yes, its possible to sustain this pace. Ive seen it oncebefore, when I covered the Anaheim Angels in 2000. Darin Erstad hit .355 thatseason and finished with 240 hits, and the most marvelous part about it waswatching his daily routine. He took countless swings off a tee and in the cage.He stuck to a rigorous schedule. He never rested after a two-hit game, or athree-hit game, or a four-hit game. He was out there the very next day, doingeverything possible to stay sharp. And then hed spit out more hits with thatflat-bat swing of his.

Thats how teammates describe the relentless way Cabreragoes about his business, both in the cage and in the weight room.

Know this: The man travels with his personal medicine ball.

Every day I work hard and make sure I prepare myself totake good at-bats, Cabrera said. Its all about preparation, doing whatever Ican.

His routine does not include being overly chatty. ButCabrera offers peeks to his personality.

When asked what he thought of Sergio Romo copying hischinstrap beard, Cabrera didnt wait for the translation.

He looks better, he said, smiling.

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The Giants didnt just score 14 runs against Anibal Sanchezand Co. They also looked smart doing it.

How about the discipline that Buster Posey showed in thesixth inning? He worked a count to 3-2, and when he got a breaking ball, hedidnt lunge at it. That's something he wasn't doing earlier this month, when the strikeouts were piling up in uncharacteristic fashion.

And how about Angel Pagan? Hes proving to be quite anasset as the No.5 hitter. When Posey walked to load the bases, Paganstiebreaking double drove in two runs.

You could argue the two most important moments in the game came with the bases loaded: Pagan's double in the sixth, and Vogelsong's getting Giancarlo Stanton to pop out in the fifth.

One more small thing I noticed, even if I forgot when it happened: With a hit-and-run on, Joaquin Arias found a way to foul off a pitch that was a footoutside. It didnt make a major difference in Thursdays outcome, but those arethe little things that add up over the long haul.

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The Giants set season highs with 15 hits and four stolenbases. So the early returns on Marlins Park are favorable, no matter what an art critic would say about the home run fountain in center field.

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Check out Romos before-and-after barbershop photos. Heposted them to his Twitter page.

I also happened to go for a haircut today near Little Havana. Theplace was called Manny Sosas. Sadly, the barber didnt look anything likeManny Mota or Sammy Sosa.

Tomorrow for lunch: Versailles, and arroz con pollo. With plaintains and then Cafe Cubano, of course.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

READ MORE AT CSNChicago.com

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.