Freddy Sanchez still not giving up on a 2012 return


Freddy Sanchez still not giving up on a 2012 return

PHOENIX Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, his career derailedby shoulder and back surgeries, still hasnt given up on playing for the Giantsthis season.

Thats right. This season. As in 2012.

The three-time All-Star second baseman and 2006 NL batting champion hasnt played sinceJune 10, 2011, when he dislocated his right shoulder while diving for a groundball. He never made it out of spring training this season because of ongoingshoulder issues, and then back surgery in July to address a compressed nerve.

But Sanchez continues to work out daily at the Giants complexin nearby Scottsdale, hell compete with prospects in instructional league whengames begin on Monday, and although its an unlikely goal, he has an eye towardmaking himself an option off the bench for the Giants down the stretch.

Theres obviously no room right now and everybody is doinggreat, so I realize its a tough situation, Sanchez told me by phone onFriday. Ryan Theriot, Joaquin Arias, Marco Scutaro, all those guys have beenthere and are playing great. Sometimes you cant mess with that.

But my goal was to always come back this year. If I can bea bat off the bench, or help in any way, I want to be there.

Sanchez, 34, only played in 60 games after signing atwo-year, 12 million extension following the Giants World Series championshipseason in 2010. Sanchez had several key hits during that title run, none biggerthan his two-out, two-strike, ninth-inning single off Atlantas Craig Kimbrelin Game 3 of the NL Division Series; later on, Sanchez became the first playerin history to double three times in his first World Series game.

All parties expected Sanchez to begin the season as thestarting second baseman this year, but he responded slowly following surgery tostabilize his right shoulder capsule. Then he required back surgery July 5 fora nerve issue that robbed him of leg strength.

My quad just atrophied, said Sanchez, who tried rehabbingit for three weeks with no improvement. There are times Id try to walk and itwould shut down on me. But the recovery has gone a lot better than we couldvehoped for. The nerve just needed time to regrow, and running is the only issue.I had my best day running on Wednesday.

Sanchez is hitting in the cage, playing catch and goingthrough his daily rehab protocol at the Giants complex. Hes a free agentafter this season, and while he is quick to express confidence that hell beable to play second base again, that isnt his current ambition.

Thats what Im fighting for, man, he said. Just pinchhit here or there.

But why bother?

Here was his answer:

Ill never forget (Giants GM) Brian Sabean, after Idislocated my shoulder, he said, I wouldnt bet against him coming back,Sanchez said. Unfortunately, it was what it was. But the fact he believed inme and had faith in me Id keel over before Id stop trying to come back. Iowe the Giants everything. The fans, the organization, everyone has been sogood to me. They traded for me. They signed me to an extension. I couldnt comeback for them the first time, but Im trying to do it now.

So, is it likely?

No, but you never rule anything out, Giants head athletictrainer Dave Groeschner said. Hes just trying to get better. Its been a longyear for him. In typical Freddy fashion, hes doing everything he can to pushforward. Hes recovered really well.

Sanchez will be examined by Giants orthopedist Dr. KenAkizuki on Thursday and hopes to begin playing in instructional league gameswith minor league prospects when action begins in 100-degree heat on Monday.

I give him a lot of credit because hes worked reallyhard, Groeschner said. He couldve slow-played it, but hes pretty determinedto push and try to get back. Its easy to say, Ill rest until the offseason.He wants to be a player again.

Its highly unlikely. But we still have three weeks left,and maybe three weeks after that. Were just trying to get him better, whetherhe plays for the Giants again or another team.

There is one more factor driving Sanchez. Well, 2.29 millionof them, actually.

Thats the number of All-Star votes that Sanchez received tofinish fourth among NL second basemen.It was fodder for comedy and columnists at the time. It meant much moreto Sanchez.

That, right there, is what made me fall in love with SanFrancisco, Sanchez said. You talk about fan loyalty how can you beat that?

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall. 

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Chris Sale traded socks (AP) -- or Sox - from white to red. Edwin Encarnacion took his big bat to Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.

Plenty of All-Stars, Cy Young winners and MVPs are wearing new uniforms this season.

The biggest move occurred when the Boston Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The five-time All-Star left-hander left a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2008 for one that's won three World Series titles since 2004.

Encarnacion left Toronto for the team that beat the Blue Jays in last year's ALCS. He averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons in Toronto and gives the Indians a major boost.

Chapman is back in New York after spending the first half of last season with the Yankees before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series.

Here's a 25-man roster of familiar faces in different places this season:


1. CF: Dexter Fowler. Jumped from World Series champion Cubs to rival St. Louis. Gives the Cardinals stability atop the batting order.

2. RF: Adam Eaton. Traded from White Sox to defending NL East champion Nationals. He'll play center field in Washington between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

3. DH: Kendrys Morales. Joined Blue Jays to help fill Encarnacion's void after spending past two seasons with the Royals.

4. 1B: Encarnacion.

5. C: Brian McCann. Traded from Yankees to Astros, giving Houston's stacked lineup another slugger.

6. SS: Ian Desmond. Returns to NL to join Rockies after one season playing outfield in Texas. He'll play first base for Colorado, but he's back at shortstop on this squad.

7. LF: Matt Holliday. Signed with Yankees following 7 1/2 seasons in St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star will likely DH in New York though he'll see some action in left field.

8. 2B: Brandon Phillips. Waived no-trade clause to go to rebuilding Braves after 11 seasons with Reds.

9. 3B: Howie Kendrick. Comes east after spending his entire career in Los Angeles - nine seasons with Angels and last two with Dodgers. Kendrick is playing left field for Philadelphia but he starts at third to fill this lineup.


1B: Chris Carter. Landed with Yankees after swatting 41 homers for Milwaukee last season to tie for NL lead.

INF: Jimmy Rollins. Former NL MVP is trying to land a roster spot with San Francisco as a utility man after playing all but one-third inning of his 17-year career at shortstop. Has bounced from Dodgers to White Sox to Giants after 15 seasons in Philadelphia.

OF: Michael Saunders. All-Star for Blue Jays last season and will start in right field for Phillies.

OF: Carlos Beltran. Returns to Houston after spending half the 2004 season with the Astros and hitting eight postseason homers for them.

C: Matt Wieters. Left Baltimore for Washington to replace All-Star Wilson Ramos, who joined Tampa Bay and is still recovering from knee surgery.



Edinson Volquez. Goes from Royals to Marlins.

Jaime Garcia. Lefty joins Braves after eight seasons in St. Louis.

Jered Weaver. Stays in California, switching to Padres after 11 seasons with Angels.

R.A. Dickey. Knuckleballer returns to NL East after four seasons in Toronto. One of two 40-plus former Cy Young award winners signed by Braves.


Bartolo Colon. Other veteran Braves signed to bolster rotation. He'll be long man on this staff.



Mark Melancon. Signed with Giants after finishing last season in Washington.

Sergio Romo. Went from San Francisco to rival Dodgers.

Wade Davis. Traded from Royals to Cubs to replace Chapman.

Santiago Casilla. Stays in Bay Area, going from Giants to A's.