Giants

Is Hector Sanchez mashing his way onto the roster?

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Is Hector Sanchez mashing his way onto the roster?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Young catcher Hector Sanchez continuesto post big numbers this spring. And he might be starting to change the Giantsroster calculus.

The 22-year-old switch hitter had another banner afternoonSaturday, first pulling a two-run home run off Rockies right-hander JuanNicasio, then working a long and impressive at-bat that ended with anopposite-field double off Esmil Rogers.

Sanchez is hitting .452 with a team-leading four home runsand 10 RBIs. He has a .935 slugging percentage and half of his 14 hits havegone for extra bases. He didnt lose any momentum from a huge season in theVenezuelan winter league.

But will he fit on the Giants opening-day roster?

With Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong expected to start theseason on the disabled list, the Giants should have two extra spots toallocate. It would be logical to use one of those spots on Hector Sanchez, especiallyconsidering that Buster Posey could be eased back into everyday duties behindthe plate early in the season.

A third catcher isnt the worst thing to have in the shortterm especially one who could be a switch-hitting threat off the bench.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy appears to be warming to theidea. Just a few days ago, he called the young Sanchez a longshot in the competition withEli Whiteside and Chris Stewart.

But after watching Sanchez rake again in a 7-6 loss to theRockies, Bochy said he and the staff would stay open minded.

Youd have to say hes in the mix, particularly with howhes playing, Bochy said. Of course, you come up with the idea of, Is hebetter off playing every day or playing a couple times a week and coming offthe bench? These are the things well discuss this week.

Sanchez still has plenty to learn behind the plate, both ingame calling and blocking skills. For that reason, the plan was to send Sanchezto Triple-A Fresno where he can continue his development.

But as Bochy said just 24 hours earlier when discussing NateSchierholtz, its incumbent upon him to pick players who can put runs on theboard. Nobody in camp has done that better than Sanchez.

Hes a nice player. He had a nice winter ball, Bochy said.Hes got the ability from both sides, a good eye, uses the whole field. Hereally doesnt have a hole, and hes a smart hitter. He knows what he wants todo up there. Hes got a great gift there.

Sanchez said he made huge strides with Tiburones this winterafter coaches suggested he use a quieter stance and keep his hands still.

I think that helps me a lot, he said. I feel comfortableup there. Everybody wants to be in the big leagues. I just try to play hard andwait for the opportunity. Thats all I can do.

One other factor to consider as the Giants look at variousroster possibilities: Of their first 10 games, four of them are day games precededby night games. The Giants have 39 such quick turn games on the schedule thisseason.

Posey has caught just 27 innings all spring three fullgames, really and neither he nor the coaching staff can be certain how his reconstructedankle will respond.

Posey played six innings at first base Saturday and lookedcomfortable while receiving throws. He also made an on-target throw to theplate, where Sanchez applied a tag on a fielders choice.

Posey also continues to look comfortable at the plate. Hehad a pair of RBI hits Saturday, bouncing a single up the middle and runningwell on a double to right-center field. His average is up to .319.

Posey will be off Sunday but will get stretched out to catchnine innings soon, Bochy said.

Hes coming out of these games with no issues, Bochy said.Hes getting his at-bats. Hes getting his timing.

Sanchezs timing appears to be right on, too.

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

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Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.