Giants notes: Resilient Romo, Sandoval's winter plans, Melky etc.

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Giants notes: Resilient Romo, Sandoval's winter plans, Melky etc.

SAN FRANCISCO There is no underestimating the importanceof health.

Just look at where Buster Posey stood exactly one year ago(he had just begun to stand on his reconstructed left ankle, actually), andwhere he stands now.

As the Giants enter the final two weeks of the regularseason, they are mostly healthy and getting healthier. Gregor Blanco is back inleft field, Xavier Nady will start Thursdays series finale against Rockieslefty Jorge De La Rosa and Giants manager Bruce Bochy has a full complement inhis bullpen.

That includes Sergio Romo, which is an important point --both because of his importance as a late-inning presence, and because theGiants have taken great care to coax the undersized right-hander through eachof the three previous seasons.

Romos slider is rough on his elbow, which is one of thereasons that Bochy didnt consider him a first option when closer Brian Wilsonwent down in the first week of the season. Santiago Casilla handled the jobwell throughout the first half.

But now Romo is getting longer looks, hes holding up well,and guess what? Hes more than just a right-handed specialist.

Romo is holding right-handers to a .190 average. Hesholding lefties to a .191 average.

Hes given up four homers in 137 at-bats to right-handedhitters and just one in 47 at-bats against lefties.

So between that effectiveness against lefties, and Romoselbow holding firm, Bochy has not hesitated to use him for a piece in theeighth and then bring him back to (hopefully) work a clean inning in the ninth.

Bochy also hasnt shied away from using Romo in non-savesituations, just to make sure the opposing team doesnt start a blaze thatcant be put out.

Were in a situation where were trying to win every gamewe can, Bochy said. And hes doing well.

Romo already has thrown more innings than last year and willmatch his 2011 total for games with his next appearance. Hes four away frommatching his career high of 68, set in 2010.

Resiliency is never more important than in the postseason,which is why Bochy has a sense of urgency to wrap up this division. Aside fromthe obvious preference to clinch in front of the home folks, it would give theGiants a week-long road trip to run Romo and the rest of the relievers like pacecars and get them ready for the postseason.

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Pablo Sandoval told USA Todays Jorge Ortiz that he isplanning to play a month of winter ball for Magallanes in Venezuela and thentake part in the World Baseball Classic next spring.

In the past, the Giants have asked Sandoval to limit hiswinter ball exposure so that he could focus on strength training and weightloss with his trainers at Triple Threat Performance in Arizona. Im told theclub will insist that Sandoval adhere to a similar program, regardless of how muchhe plays or how much time he spends back home this winter.

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Marco Scutaro will match his career high of 174 hits withhis next safety. He has 71 hits in 49 games as a Giant, which is juststaggering. And hes third in the NL in the hits department, a couple ahead ofRyan Braun. That is also staggering.

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The Dodgers already lost Game 1 at Washington. Magic numberdown to six, with the potential to get down to four by the close of businesstonight.

RELATED: MLB standings

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In case you didnt see it, Commissioner Bud Selig was askedabout Melky Cabrera and the batting title and said he had no plans to doanything about it.

RELATED: MLB unlikely to bar Cabrera from batting title

No surprise there. Last time I checked, Pete Rose is theall-time hits king, Barry Bonds is the all-time home run king, and the onlytime a commissioner affixed an asterisk to a record, it was when Roger Marispassed Babe Ruths single-season homer mark in 1961. And that looks a bitfoolish in retrospect, doesnt it?

Cabrera will win the batting title because its not atrophy. Its not voted upon. Its purely driven by the numbers, and suspensionor no suspension, that .346 average will be on the back of his baseball card. Byrule, Cabrera will have one at-bat added so that he has enough plateappearances to qualify.

There is no changing that rule in the middle of a season,but in the future, perhaps it will be amended to keep suspended players frombeing eligible to received added at-bats. The players and owners already agreedto a similar rule last winter that disallowed a player from being named to theAll-Star team in any year in which he is disciplined for a failed drug test.(Which is rather ironic, since Im told Cabrera tested positive fortestosterone before the All-Star Game, and was still allowed to compete becausehis appeal was pending. Thats right: Bud Selig handed the All-Star MVP trophyto a guy he knew full well had tested positive for a performance enhancer.)

Anyway, my point is this:

Statistics are objective. Value judgments are subjective.Theyre better off kept as separate as church and state.

At least Selig isn't wasting time making sure Buster Posey isn't wearing a 49ers hat.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.