Minimal changes to Giants' thriving minor-league staff

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Minimal changes to Giants' thriving minor-league staff

The San Francisco Giants have finalized their minor league coaching staff for the 2012 season, the team announced in a press release Wednesday.

Among the minimal changes are three new coaches to the system. Michael Couchee is the new Arizona League Giants pitching coach. Billy Horton, their hitting coach. And Nestor Rojas will be the Augusta hitting coach.

Below is the text contained in the team's press release:

San Francisco's minor league affiliates put together another successful year in 2011 with its farm system producing the third best record (411-352, .539) in all of organized baseball. In addition, the San Francisco Giants were named as Topps 2011 Organization of the Year for thriving with homegrown players in the minor leagues as well as at the Major League level. The organization also received this accolade in 2009. The Giants organization had four of their seven affiliates make the postseason. The Arizona Rookie League Giants took first place in their league for the second-consecutive season although they lost in the finals. The Augusta GreenJackets also advanced to the Championship game, but dropped a best-of-3 series. The Richmond Flying Squirrels made their first postseason appearance during their two-year franchise as they were eliminated in the Eastern League Championship series. After finishing first overall in the North Division the San Jose Giants advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

There have been minimal changes to the Giants managerial ranks as Dave Machemer (double-A Richmond), Andy Skeels (Class A Advanced San Jose), Lipso Nava (Class A Augusta), Tom Trebelhorn (short-season Salem-Keizer) and Jesus Tavarez (Dominican Summer League Giants) will remain at their managerial posts. Bob Mariano, who was the organizations Coordinator of Minor League Hitting Instruction last season, will be swapping positions with Steve Decker as he takes the helm of Triple-A Fresno and Decker becomes the new Coordinator of Minor League Hitting Instruction with the organization. The only new addition to the Giants minor league managerial ranks is Derin McMains, who will be making his managerial debut with the Arizona Rookie League Giants, after spending the previous two seasons as that teams hitting coach.

Steve Kline has been named as the pitching coach for the San Jose Giants as Mike Caldwell, who was with the Arizona League Giants last season, will replace Kline at Augusta. Hector Borg, who was a coach for the Dominican Summer League Giants last year, will serve in the same role with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in 2012. The three new additions to the Giants coaching ranks are Michael Couchee (Pitching Coach Arizona League Giants), Billy Horton (Hitting Coach Arizona League Giants) and Nestor Rojas (Hitting Coach Augusta).

Couchee, 54, will be embarking on his first stint within the Giants organization after spending the previous nine seasons with San Diegos minor league chain, one as triple-A Portlands pitching coach and eight as their Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Prior to his time in San Diegos minor league system, Couchee also held the same post as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheims Minor League Pitching Coordinator for 10 seasons from 1993-2002, following several stints as a pitching coach in that organization. The former pitcher was originally selected in the 19th round of the 1980 First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres and pitched briefly for the big league club in 1983.

Horton, 38, will join the Giants coaching ranks for the first time in his career as he has spent considerable time with many organizations. The former infielder and catcher worked professionally for the Arizona Diamondbacks in numerous roles in 2003 and 2006 as well as with a number of Baseball academies in the Phoenix, AZ area. Horton also played in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox as well as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Rojas, 28, will be returning to the Augusta GreenJackets for a second season as a hitting coach. The Venezuelan native played in the Giants minor league system from 2003-2010, reaching as high as triple-A. During his career, the former catcher played in 256 games, hitting .222 (164-for-739) after signing with the organization in 2003.

Roving instructors and medical staff for the upcoming season include: Fred Stanley - Director of Player Development; Shane Turner Coordinator of Instruction; Bert Bradley Coordinator of Minor League Pitching; Steve Decker Coordinator of Minor League Hitting; Joe Amalfitano Special Assistant; Jim Davenport Special Assistant; Lee Smith Roving Pitching Instructor; Jose Alguacil Roving Infield Instructor; Henry Cotto Roving Baserunning and Outfield Instructor; Kirt Manwaring Roving Catching Instructor; Shawon Dunston - Instructor; J.T. Snow - Instructor; Jay Williams Coordinator of Minor League Trainers; Tony Reale Organizational Physical Therapist; Geoff Head Coordinator of Minor League Strength and Conditioning.

San Francisco Giants media services contributed to this report

Sandoval returns, apologizes to fans for way he left Giants

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Sandoval returns, apologizes to fans for way he left Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — The first two steps of Pablo Sandoval’s second stint in San Francisco were positive. 

Sandoval showed up to AT&T Park on Saturday in decent shape, the kind that will allow him to go straight to the minors instead of spending a few weeks cutting pounds. He also said the right things, apologizing to fans for comments made in the months and year after he left the Giants for supposedly greener pastures. 

“I learned my lesson,” Sandoval said a few seconds after sitting down with reporters. “I made a lot of mistakes.”

Sandoval said he also needed to apologize to former teammates, many of whom have not forgotten a Bleacher Report article from Sandoval’s first spring with the Red Sox. 

Back then, Sandoval told Scott Miller the decision to leave San Francisco was “not hard at all.” On Saturday, he said there was simply a “miscommunication.”

Back then, Sandoval said, “I knew early in spring training last year I was going to leave.” On Saturday, he claimed that he would have come and said he’s “excited, excited to be back … I’m thankful to the Giants.”

Back then, Sandoval said he didn’t miss his former teammates. "Only Bochy," he told Bleacher Report. "I love Boch. He's like my dad. He's the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys.” On Saturday, Sandoval said, “If I mentioned a lot of people, it was going to be the whole roster … Hunter was like my brother and Bochy was like my dad.”

It will be up to the players and team employees to decide how they really feel three years later. Some, most notably Pence, have been effusive in their praise of the move. Others have been more guarded, and some have grumbled. And make no mistake about it, there are executives at high levels of the organization who do not agree with a reunion. Why do it, then? 

“You look at it as a free look at a player who has done some good things in this game and has the talent to hit  baseball,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Sometimes a change of scenery can get a player back to the player he was and he was pretty good here. This allows you to take a look and make a call if you think he can help you or not. There’s no guarantee.”

Bochy called it a “win-win” situation and said this was not a marketing move, but it certainly won’t hurt the organization’s affiliates. Sandoval will DH for the San Jose Giants on Saturday and join Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. He is expected to get at least 40-50 at-bats before the Giants make a decision.

Sandoval said his shoulder, which ended his 2016 season, is healthy, and he has resumed switch-hitting. It has been three years since he has been a productive big leaguer, but he is still just 30 years old. 

“I have to prove a lot of things,” Sandoval said. “I hope to be back and doing the best (I can).”

The Giants did not guarantee a return to the big leagues, but the coast is clearing up. Eduardo Nuñez, the incumbent at third, is Bobby Evans’ best trade chip and could be gone by August 1. Christian Arroyo is on the minor league disabled list. Ryder Jones will play all over the field with Sandoval returning to Sacramento. Jae-gyun Hwang was optioned back to Triple-A on Saturday and faces an uncertain future in the organization. 

The history of this organization says that if Sandoval shows anything at all, he will be back at AT&T Park before the season is up. At that point, he’ll have to sit down with some teammates and coaches and possibly explain himself. There is more to this than an article written three years ago. It was an open secret that Sandoval was ready to move on, and he had some fun waving goodbye to fans at the 2014 parade. If and when he does return, Sandoval will hope for the best from a fan base that is divided on his return. He did his part to heal some wounds Saturday, signing autographs on his way out of the park.

For now, Sandoval said he’s ready for his second chance. 

“At the end of the day,” he said, “I’m happy to be back.”

BREAKING: Giants sign Pablo Sandoval to minor league deal

BREAKING: Giants sign Pablo Sandoval to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years after departing for what he thought would be a better fit, Pablo Sandoval has returned. 

The third baseman, a key cog in the dynasty the Giants built earlier this decade, re-signed with the organization on a minor league deal on Saturday morning. Sandoval will join Class-A San Jose immediately and move on to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday. He was in the AT&T Park clubhouse on Saturday to take a physical. 

Sandoval, now 30 years old, spent the first seven years of his career in San Francisco, batting .294 with 106 homers amid battles with his weight and inconsistency. The Giants never quite got on the same page with Sandoval when it came to his conditioning, and he alternated between being a valued power hitter in the middle of their lineup and sitting on the verge of being replaced. 

In Boston, there were no such highs. Sandoval played just 161 games over three seasons, batting .237 with 14 homers, and playing poor defense. He posted a negative Wins Above Replacement in all three seasons with the Red Sox and he was designated for assignment last week. Sandoval twice cleared waivers, so the Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of a five-year, $95 million contract. 

The Giants have not yet commented publicly about Sandoval, citing tampering rules. The view from team employees seems to be that there’s little risk in signing a former fan favorite who comes essentially for free. With Christian Arroyo on the disabled list, Sandoval will not be blocking one of the organization’s top prospects, although you can argue that a last-place team would be better served looking at players like Ryder Jones.

Most players were guarded in their comments this week. Hunter Pence, the lone player mentioned in a positive light by Sandoval in a scathing article after his departure, said he is excited for a reunion. Others offered some version of, “If he helps us win, so be it.” 

It’s unclear if Sandoval can still do that, and multiple team officials, speaking on background this week, said it’s a coin flip whether Sandoval ever returns to the majors. Still, the Giants are willing to flip that coin, and their history says they don't sign veterans and leave them in the minors.