Sandoval upbeat, excited, embraced by fans in return

788900.jpg

Sandoval upbeat, excited, embraced by fans in return

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO No matter what controversy PabloSandoval might face off the field or how many pounds he packs on, the Giantsknow they are a better team with his bat in the lineup.

Their fans understand it, too.

Sandoval returned from the disabled list on Saturday to anovation that was loud, and by all indications, positive.

RECAP: Baggs' Instant Replay -- Giants 5, Rangers 2

He made all the plays at third base, survived a scare on aninside fastball that nearly hit his repaired left hand, and whistled an RBIsingle up the middle in the seventh inning.

And he was all smiles after the game, grateful for thechance to play in the big leagues again after a six-week absence and evengrateful for the scolding that Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave him about hisconditioning.

Yeah, yeah, Im excited he told me those things, said Sandoval, who received a lecture prior to the game. I want to work hard to get in shape. We have a great manager. He givesyou advice to work hard to be a better player. He told me, You have thetalent. Youve got to show it. Ill keep doing my routine Ive been doing forthe last couple weeks.

Off the field, the last few weeks have been anything butroutine for Sandoval. He remains under investigation by the Santa Cruz CountySheriffs Department and faces possible sexual assault charges stemming from anincident at a seaside resort June 1. Investigators interviewed Sandoval on thatday with his attorney present; they have not conducted subsequent interviewswith him, Deputy April Skalland said.

RELATED: Sandoval's alleged victim a 212-year-old SC woman

Detectives expect to wrap up the investigationin another two weeks and submit a recommendation to the district attorneysoffice. He does not currently face charges, nor has he been arrested.

Despite the controversy, Sandoval experienced little to no backlash from fans in hisreturn. Fans of all ages continued to wear Panda hats and cheer each of hisat-bats.

When youve got fans like that supporting you every day,its exciting, Sandoval said. I go to the field every day and try to help myteam.

Sandoval was his usual, upbeat, aggressive self at the plate. He took a mighty cut at the first pitch from ScottFeldman and eventually flied out to center field in his first at-bat. He hittwo more fly outs before hitting an RBI single in the seventh inning.

The hit came one pitch after Sandoval got brushed back by afastball from Koji Uehara; the pitch hit Sandovals bat near his left hand,which he immediately began shaking. He said the vibrations didnt feel good,but he was OK.

Good, good. It doesnt bother me, said Sandoval, whobatted from the left side each time but said hes ready to hit lefties, too. Ican swing hard right-handed.

Sandoval missed seven weeks last season following his right hamate fracture. He missed six weeks this time after surgery to remove the same bone in his left hand.

Bochy said he was pleased with Sandovals performance in hisfirst game back.

He did a nice job at third base, Bochy said. He was alittle anxious at the plate early. He was getting himself out. He shortened upand got a hit. Thats usually the case when guys come back. Theyve got to slowit down. I thought he had a good batting practice. I thought itd take a gamefor him (to slow down). He looked good.

Said Sandoval: Its one month to come back. You want to doeverything in one at-bat, in one play. The last at-bat, I just try to calm downmyself.

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

As Samardzija ages, it isn't as easy to lose the weight gained in offseason

Jeff Samardzija is entering Year 2 of the five-year contract he signed with the Giants following the 2015 season.

With spring training underway, what is the hardest part about getting his body and mind prepared for the upcoming campaign?

"The pitching aspects of things, the older I get, the more they kind of just fall right in line with feeling my mechanics out," Samardzija explained on KNBR 680 on Wednesday morning. "For me, it's probably the cardio (laughter). The older I get, the more I realize that you put more weight on in the offseason, then it's a little harder to get off.

"You hear about it, right? You hear about it all the time when you're younger ... and my offseasons, I like to have offseasons. I don't watch my calories. I don't watch my intake (I don't really watch any of that anyways). But the offseason -- I have fun, I relax ... then you get working out again and usually those first five or six poles, two-mile runs, camelback hikes -- they're always pretty interesting the first couple times."

The former college wide receiver is listed at 225 pounds.

Samardzija turned 32 years old in January and is entering his 10th big-league season.

He went 12-11 with a 3.81 ERA over 32 starts last year.

Over his final 10 starts, he went 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA.

"The splitter came back for me there toward the end of the year," Samardzija said. "I kind of brought the curveball in to not replace, but kind of take up some of the space of the splitter that wasn't there.

"And then come September, the splitter showed up and then we had the curveball and we ran with it from there."

Key Giants lefty reliever Smith sidelined by elbow inflammation

Key Giants lefty reliever Smith sidelined by elbow inflammation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For years, the Giants would give Sergio Romo time off during spring training to make sure his tender elbow would be ready for opening day. Romo is now a Dodger, but one of the men tasked with replacing those eighth-inning outs has been shut down. 

Will Smith won't throw for about a week because of inflammation in his left elbow. Manager Bruce Bochy said an MRI came back clean, but Smith won't pitch in a game for two to three weeks. The Giants are confident, however, that Smith will be ready for opening day. Because of the long spring, the staff has mapped out a schedule where Smith can return and make six spring appearances before the regular season. 

Any setbacks would strike a big blow to the bullpen. Smith, 27, is supposed to be a key part of the revamped group. The Giants acquired him at the deadline last season hoping he turns into the next Jeremy Affeldt, a lefty capable of facing left- and right-handed hitters.

After a slow start in San Francisco last August, Smith ended the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. The Giants entered camp with Smith set to share the eighth-inning role with right-handers Derek Law and Hunter Strickland.