EXTRA BAGGS: Sandoval sends 'em home happy


EXTRA BAGGS: Sandoval sends 'em home happy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Pablo Sandoval hasnt made a ton of loudcontact this spring. But he sent the ballpark home with a mighty kaboom Mondayafternoon.

In one of the best signs for the Giants all spring, Sandovalbattled the count full before crushing a breaking pitch from Greg Holland that strucklike an arrow onto the berm in right-center field.

Sandoval raised an arm as he rounded the bases and theScottsdale Stadium crowd got as loud as Ive ever heard it. The shot gave the Giants a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

You know, its my second one, said an obviously prideful Panda, recalling a walk-off in 2009 against the Washington Nationals. So my second one feels great.

Even better than the result was the method behind it.Sandoval had to recoil out of the box at least twice on wildly high, upper-90sfastballs. Justin Christian stole second base one of those pitches, and tookthird when the catchers throw bounced into center field.

With the count full, Sandoval noted that Holland shook off.He deduced the rest.

I wait for one pitch, said Sandoval, who was sitting on abreaking ball. If he throws fastball right there, he strikes me out.

Holland is not a nameless No.87 in Royals camp, either. Hehad a 1.80 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in 60 innings for Kansas City last season and isa candidate to close now that Joakim Soria is hurt.

RELATED: Cortisone shot for Sanchez's troublesome shoulder

David Schoenfield of ESPN recently wrote that Holland wasmurder on lefties last season. He faced 106 of them and struck out 38 thesecond best percentage of whiffs among AL pitchers. Left-handed hitters were 4for 60 (.067) when Holland had two strikes against them last season.

So all things considered, Sandoval should feel very goodabout that at-bat. It might be a springboard as he gets ready to help drive themiddle of the Giants lineup beginning in 11 days.

Sandoval said his extra conditioning work hasnt dragged himdown this spring. Its just taken a little longer to find his stroke after notplaying winter ball in Venezuela.

Now Im getting my foot down, he said. I got my rhythm. Ifeel great at home plate. So, no complaints.

Its turning into one of those springs for Ryan Theriot. Hehasnt looked too dependable with the glove, and after leaving Mondays game,lets hope he didnt have any expensive family portraits scheduled in the near term.

Theriot tried a snap tag on a pickoff play and it backfiredin a bad way. The ball glanced off his glove, hit the runner and ricochetedright off Theriots nose. He was bleeding profusely, in manager Bruce Bochysdescription, but X-rays ruled out a fracture.

Theriot had been day-to-day with a mild ankle injury. Hescome up in trade rumors, too. Do they have voodoo dolls down on the Bayou?

In just four days, the other three-quarters of Theriots1.25 million salary will become guaranteed if hes still on the roster. Whilethe Giants are looking at trade possibilities, I do think Theriot is seen as a fit on the roster. Hes a tough out in the late innings, and other than BrettPill, the Giants dont have many right-handed threats for the bench.

Its mentioned in other posts, but in case you missed it:

Buster Posey will start Tuesday and catch Tim Lincecumagainst the Angels (and presumably, Albert Pujols). Itll be the first time Posey goes back-to-back behind theplate this spring. He and Lincecum havent worked together since last May, soBochy felt it was important to pick this spot to test Poseys ankle.

RELATED: Posey deemed ready for back-to-back duty behind plate

Brian Wilson is on the schedule to throw an inningWednesday. Its possible he could go Thursday, too. But that hasnt beendecided yet.

Ryan Vogelsong will start again on Saturday. The Giants sayhell start the Cactus League exhibition against the Reds. But dont bet on it.If he starts that day, they couldnt backdate his DL stint any earlier thanApril 1. That would make him eligible to be activated on April 16 and the clubneeds a No.5 starter on April 15. So expect Vogelsong to throw his 50 pitchesin a minor league game.

And Freddy Sanchez? After a cortisone shot in his shoulder, it's anyone's guess.

Helped his cause Monday: Joaquin Arias. He was 2 for 2 andcollected the tying single. Hes the only person besides Brandon Crawford thatIve seen this spring and would trust putting at shortstop.

Hurt his cause Monday: Nate Schierholtz dropped a very catchableball on the warning track in right field. It was scored a double, leading tothe only run that Vogelsong allowed. Then Schierholtz struck out with two outsand the bases loaded in the bottom o the first. Yee-owch.

Expect more minor league camp activity or Angel Pagan. Heshitting .176 after going 0 for 4. Pagan did make a nice, diving catch in centerfield, though.

I dont think Pagan can lose the everyday center field jobwith a bad spring. The Giants acquired him to be that guy, and you dont flipthat script based on a few good (albeit very, very impressive) weeks out ofGregor Blanco.

Heres another thing to consider: Managers manage people,not just games. In Pagans case, hes a free agent at the end of the season.Thats a good thing for the Giants because you can count on guys in thatsituation to be hungry and motivated all year long.

But if you take away that guys opportunity based on a badspring, you risk losing him completely. Hell stew all year, thinking youretaking money out of his pocket. So Pagan has to be given a shot to provehimself in the regular season, and be the player the Giants envisioned whenthey acquired him.

My guess: If Blanco takes away at-bats from anyone in the early going, it'd be Schierholtz. That could be especially true if Pagan struggles in the leadoff spot. The Giants could hit him down in the order in an effort to get him going, and bat Blanco in the No.1 spot.

There are four non-roster guys remaining in camp: Arias,Blanco, Justin Christian and Jean Machi. A Final Four, if you will.

Another reason to feel good about Vogelsongs outing Monday:He made a nice team with Posey. I didnt realize it till I looked it up, butVogelsong made 28 starts last year. Posey was behind the plate for just threeof them.

Well, you can pencil in your pitching matchups for theseason-opening series at Chase Field. Arizona manager Kirk Gibson announced hisarrangement on Monday. Itll be Lincecum and Ian Kennedy on April 6, followedby Madison Bumgarner vs. Daniel Hudson and Matt Cain vs. Josh Collmener.

Verrrry interesting that Arizona is not pitching TrevorCahill in the opening series.

Well, my Macbook Pro adapter turned volcanically hot andstopped working so I had to go to the Apple store this morning. The good news:I didnt have to pay for a replacement. The bad news: I broke down and made a veryexpensive impulse purchase. Now I just need to figure out what the kids aredoing with these iPads.

You will not find a nicer, more thoughtful person thanTriple-A Fresno announcer Doug Greenwald. One of the best parts of springtraining is being able to interact with Doug every day and hearing him onsfgiants.com.

In his spare time, Doug enjoys traveling and taking photosof post offices around the country, and yes, you read that correctly.

This morning, he posted the following on Twitter: Watchingthe Weather Channel now. Great channel, love knowing the weather in theDakotas. Seriously, love it.

If anything ever happens to the Dos Equis guy, I hereby nominateDoug Greenwald to take his place.

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."

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

MARYVALE, Ariz. — After a series of questions the other day about getting extra rest between starts, Madison Bumgarner smiled and pointed at the personalized calendar taped to his locker. He said he simply operates by the schedule set out by pitching coach Dave Righetti.

A glance at the calendar in Matt Cain’s locker might show a reason why the longest-tenured Giant is still in a good position to win the No. 5 starter spot despite continued spring struggles. Because they have two off days sandwiching a two-game series in Kansas City in the middle of April, the Giants can potentially use their No. 5 starter just twice until April 25, a span of 20 games.

If there’s any concern about Cain’s ability to hold up during the regular season, the early slate could help. The Giants can throw Cain against the Padres and Diamondbacks to start the season, and if it's not working out, they can go a stretch with just their top four as they reevaluate. 

"We'll see once we get a little closer how guys are doing, but it certainly gives you some options," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Cain has been preparing all along to start April 7 at Petco Park. That hasn’t changed.

“That’s what I’m looking at,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m preparing for, to make sure I’m ready to go 100 pitches.”

Cain had another mixed-bag day against the Brewers. The first inning was full of loud contact and Cain was charged with three runs on four hits. But he settled down from there, allowing just one run over the next four innings. In all, Cain allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four. He said he tried to change speeds more often after the early ambush. 

“I was maybe getting the timing different for them,” he said. “Those guys were getting balls where they could hit them. You’ve got to make a quick adjustment to that, and I had to do that.”

Cain threw 70 pitches, another sign that he’s locked in for April 7. His competition, Ty Blach, has not been fully stretched out this spring. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: Will Smith will head to Los Angeles on Thursday to get a second opinion on his left elbow strain. The Giants will then know if Smith needs Tommy John surgery, which would end his season. Eduardo Nuñez flew back to San Francisco with Smith earlier in the week to get a corisone shot in his sore right shoulder. He's back, but he'll be down a few days. 

GAME RECAP: Hunter Pence has been slumping for several weeks, but he got on the board in the sixth with a double that spun off the end of his bat and down the first base line. A classic Pence hit ... Jae-gyun Hwang hit a two-run shot to right-center ... Steven Okert did some nifty work to keep his spring ERA at 0.00. With runners on first and third and no outs, he got a double play and a fly ball to left.

ICYMI: Barry Bonds has arrived. Here is a story about his return to the Giants, and here’s video from his media session this morning. 

GOOD NEWS: First base coach Jose Alguacil returned to camp Wednesday morning, and he said he’s only a few days from returning to game action. Alguacil, who had surgery earlier in March after taking a line drive off the face, was cleared for full activity. Hensley Meulens, Dave Groeschner and Taira Uematsu also returned from a stint in the WBC. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Aaron Hill started the prettiest double play of the spring by snagging a Hernan Perez liner with a dive and making a perfect throw to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Hill later smashed a double into the left field corner. That dude is making the team. 

QUOTABLE: "I figured Barry is in town, so I'd show him how it's done." -- Denard Span on a very long two-run homer he hit to right.