Five Giants essential to postseason berth

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Five Giants essential to postseason berth

Melky Cabreras absence undoubtedly leaves a big hole in theGiants lineup, one that will be impossible to fill completely. But evenwithout their former All-Star right fielder, the Giants are still in the huntfor a postseason berth. However, San Francisco will need other players to rise to theoccasion and steady the team in the wake of the suspension of their besthitter.Buster Posey
Buster Posey is now the Giants offensive leader and it would be ludicrous toexpect him to improve on what is already turning into a career season: a .330AVG and 76 RBI for their All-Star catcher. Posey simply needs to do what he hasbeen doing all season -- keep hitting. He is not known for having an outspokenpersonality, but he leads this team by example and can galvanize the Giantsclubhouse down the stretch by virtue of his on-field performance.
Gregor Blanco
Gregor Blanco will be getting more starts in left field as Cabreras defensivereplacement. Nobody expects Blanco to even come close to the same offensivenumbers that Cabrera recorded, but Giants fans know he does need to step up hisgame at the plate. Blanco's .236 average is not good, but if he can do thelittle things like get on base more, advance runners, and limit hisstrike-outs, the speedy Blanco can contribute.
Tim Lincecum
As far as the numbers go (6-13, 5.45), this is a lost season for Tim Lincecum.Bad as his numbers may be, he has shown flashes of his former self, with theoccasional shut-down outing. Lincecum can help by not getting into troubleearly in games, putting the Giants' now-weakened offense under the gun. Thisissue has been his Achilles heel for much of this season.
Hunter Pence
Hunter Pence was brought to the Giants as the offensive weapon that would givethe team the power bat that they have always wanted. Pence disappointedinitially, and in a big way. He is still batting just .177 in the month ofAugust with the Giants, but has showed signs of life since his game-winningthree-run homer against the Rockies on Aug.12. Pence needs to live up to the organizations expectations -- which can be atall order for any player -- and add that home run power that the Giants are sosorely lacking.
Brandon Belt
Brandon Belt has been heating up. His average has been climbing steadily forthe last couple of weeks and is up to .267 after going 15-for-30 in his lastnine games. That said, Belt has a reputation for being streaky and has not hadthe full confidence of Giants brass or the fans. Now would be the perfect timefor him to prove to the team that he can be consistent. If Belt can maintainhis current average with the timely hitting that he has been showing recently,the Giants' postseason hopes will be enhanced.

Sandoval, ready for second chance, makes way back to San Francisco

Sandoval, ready for second chance, makes way back to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants had to be careful with their public statements over the past 48 hours because they didn't want to get accused of tampering with a player who technically was still property of the Red Sox. That's no longer the case. 

Pablo Sandoval was expected to clear waivers on Friday and be in San Francisco to finalize a minor league deal. One Giants fan, on the way back from Boston, appeared to catch Sandoval boarding his flight. The Giants were preparing to reintroduce Sandoval on Saturday. He is expected to then make his way to Triple-A Sacramento. 

Sandoval, now 30 years old, spent the first seven years of his career in San Francisco, batting .294 with 106 homers. His time in Boston was a disaster and he was designated for assignment last week. The Red Sox released Sandoval on Wednesday, and it was soon reported by MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that Sandoval would head back to the Giants. 

The Giants believe there is little downside in the move. Sandoval will not be blocking anyone in the minors, because Christian Arroyo is on the disabled list and Ryder Jones can play multiple positions. At the major league level, Eduardo Nuñez could be traded over the next 10 days. 

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Coach's view of San Jose Giants' stacked outfield

If it weren't for a bevy of injuries this year, Steven Duggar would be roaming the outfield for a higher level than the San Jose Giants right now. Just ask his manager. 

"If healthy at the beginning of the year, he could be playing at higher levels or the big leagues," Giants manager Nestor Rojas said before the team's 12-7 win Thursday night.  

Duggar backed up his manager's comments hours later in only his sixth game of the year with San Jose. The 23-year-old hit a grand slam, scored two runs and stole a base. Of his six hits in six games with the Giants, five have gone for extra base hits -- four doubles and Thursday's grand slam. 

"He's a solid player. It's fun to watch him play and go out there and compete every day," Rojas said. 

San Francisco selected Duggar in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Clemson. Between Advanced Single-A in San Jose and Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Duggar hit .302 with 10 home runs and 15 stolen bases while playing center field in 2016. So far with San Jose this season though, Duggar is primarily playing right field. The change isn't permanent and only shows his versatility to Rojas. 

"He’s one of those guys who’s a really good athlete and can play all three positions in the outfield," Rojas said. 

Once he became healthy, Duggar joined another Giants top prospect, Bryan Reynolds, in San Jose's outfield. And like Duggar, center field is Reynolds' first position, but he's been seeing a lot of time in the corners too. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Rojas believes. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

After starting in left field Thursday night, Reynolds has now played 45 games in center, 24 in right and five in left field this season.

At the plate, Reynolds, who was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game this year, is slashing .300/.348/.448 in 80 games. He has also hit five home runs, eight triples and 18 doubles. As he becomes stronger and continues to mature, Rojas thinks Reynolds' power will be unleashed with five-tool potential. 

"Yeah, no doubt about it. The power's gonna come," Rojas said. "First of all, he's a good hitter. I believe that will come around later on and he can hit already. He hasn't shown that much, but it will come." 

The key for Reynolds to climb up the ranks is a simple concept and no different than any other prospect. 

"Just be consistent, it's the most important thing in this business," Rojas said. "It is baseball. You're going to be hot for one month and then go into a slump. Consistency will come with better mechanics and an approach at the plate.

"The kid has been very solid here and very consistent with his approach at the plate. He has the tools."

Rounding out San Jose's stacked outfield is the speedy Ronnie Jebavy, Gio Brusa (second on the team with 11 home runs) and Heath Quinn, who Rojas sees as having big-league pop in his bat. 

"The power is there, he’s one of those big-tool players," Rojas says of Quinn. 

While the Giants have gone through a grueling game of outfield musical chairs in San Francisco this season, a bright future awaits just a drive away in San Jose.