DENVER Back in 2010, Pablo Sandoval lost his starting jobdown the stretch.
There is almost no way manager Bruce Bochy could turn himinto a bench player again. He is too much of a run-producing presence on a teamthat has hit the fewest home runs in the major leagues.
For all the talk about filling the Melky Cabrera void inleft field, lets not forget that the Giants needed to fill Cabreras No. 3 spotin the batting order, too. That is Sandovals job, and it remained so when hereturned to the lineup Friday after 48 hours to complete a mental flush.
Sandoval responded with three hits, and while he threw aball into right field while bungling a potential double play in the second inning,he came right back to make the play of the game in the sixth.
With the bases loaded and no outs, he made a diving,sprawling, terrific reaction play to snare Chris Youngs line drive down theline.
RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 6, D'backs 2
Sandoval was frustrated by the error. But he didnt allow itto be disruptive.
Youve got to forget about it, he said. When you make anerror, the next ball will come to you. Ill take it.
Remember, Sandoval lost his starting job in 2010 when he couldn't be relied upon to catch the ball. So his focus and performance in the field is perhaps even more important than his ability to produce in the No. 3 slot.
Did the break help? Sandoval said it did.
When youre struggling both on defense and offense, itstime to refresh my mind, Sandoval said. A manager like Bochy gives you theopportunity to think a little more about your game. I dont want to take it,but its part of the game. Today I was like a new guy, a new mind.
Did Bochy think about giving Sandoval yet another dayoff on Friday?
The two days is long enough to recharge the batteries,Bochy said prior to the game. You dont want to get inside his head, either,or break his spirit. Hes a presence in this lineup, and really, hes doing agood job against left-handed pitching. Well see how it goes.
It usually goes well at Chase Field. Sandoval entered theday as a .355 hitter with a .981 OPS in 32 career games here. Five homers in121 at-bats, too.
This was not Matt Cains prettiest effort while matching hisseason high with his 14th victory. But it was satisfying, especiallygiven the opponent.
The Giants are now 6-7 against the Arizona Diamondbacks withfive to play. And while Bochy downplayed the motivation to win it, Cain had amore strenuous opinion.
It definitely would, especially with last year when we hadto watch these guys clinch, Cain said. I think we would like that. We allhave that in our memories. So we all want to win the season series with theseguys.
What does Hunter Pence think of the fact he has 34 RBIs on37 hits?
Well, he said, gulping surprise. That tells me I need tostart getting more hits. Thats what that tells me. Make em pitch to (Buster) Poseywith runners on.
Xavier Nady told Bochy that hes ready to start in leftfield, estimating his hamstring to be at 90 percent after getting more work inleft field and doing agility drills in addition to sprint work.
But Bochy said he wanted to give Nady one more day to makesure hes comfortable in left field. And the manager liked Gregor Blancosat-bats in Wednesdays victory at Coors Field. So Blanco gets another start.
I asked Nady if hes eager to show what he can do, knowinghell have to force his way onto a playoff roster.
Yeah, but no matter the situation, you obviously want to beon the field, Nady said. Ive been here such a short period of time and thenhad the injury its frustrating but you try to do whatever you can to getback out there.
Ryan Vogelsong threw in the bullpen with no issues and wascleared to start on Sunday, Bochy said. Vogelsong took a hard line drive offhis shin that pretty much caught him on the bone in his last outing at CoorsField.
"There was a little concern, Bochy said. But its muchbetter. I dont see any issue with him making his start.
The Giants are sending pitchers Heath Hembree, Chris Gloor,and Jacob Dunnington to the Arizona Fall League. The club was checking onwhether they could get a special dispensation for Dan Runzler as well, but theleft-hander told me that he feels a full offseason of rest is the best thingfor him. Hes been rehabbing his lat injury since last December, and thatsbeen a mental drain as well as a physical one. Ill have more on Runzler in thenext day or two.
Former big leaguer Mike Fetters chatted up Bochy on the field. Hes probably been watching all of Bochys pitching changes on TV and figured he could use a 15th reliever.
Everyone had a jab for Santiago Casilla after he collectedhis first big league hit. But one guy couldnt say a word. In case youveforgotten, a couple years ago, Dan Runzler dislocated his knee while taking ahack in his first big league at-bat. Madison Bumgarner had to finish it, and hetook some of those big Bumgarner cuts while striking out.
But the at-bat belonged to Runzler. So he was sitting on thetrainers table in pain when he officially struck out.