It's by far the biggest game of the year, and Pablo Sandoval is coming off the best week among all National League position players.So why isn't he in the lineup Tuesday against Dodgers ace and NL Cy Young frontrunner Clayton Kershaw?Pretty simple. He's a PUP instead of a Panda.
PUP as in physically unable to perform. It's an acronym typically reserved for the NFL, but it applies here. Obviously.You think Sandoval isn't dying right now? You think this isn't exactly the stage on which he's dying to perform? Of course it is. He lives for this kind of drama. But if you can't go, you can't go. And Sandoval is smart enough to know that faking his way into the lineup against talent like Kershaw is likely to hurt the Giants more than it'll help them.The more troublesome part of this deal isn't how it affects tonight. As dominant as Kershaw has been against the Giants this season, the defending champs were going to have their hands full even with their best, most productive player.That Sandoval, a right-handed hitter, can't swing right-handed with even an ounce of confidence, though, is a major concern heading into the final week-plus of the regular season.He's been battling shoulder soreness for some time, and the pain has come and gone. It's back with a vengeance now, however, and if the pain doesn't die back down real soon, the Giants are all but cooked.Or are they? Maybe he can suck it up and bat lefty vs. lefties from here on out. He did it a little bit earlier in the year, and the force of his will might just be strong enough to make it work for a little while.Not against Kershaw, though. Kershaw's a load for Pablo at 10 percent from the right side. Kershaw against Pablo from the left side could have been ugly. Real ugly. Calling Dr. Cortisone.