SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval wont join his teammates fora day of rest and relaxation on Monday.
Hell report to AT&T Park for a full conditioningsession, including plenty of defensive drills at third base.
He has missed some time, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy,and its vital we do a good job defensively.
Sandoval, whose weight has resurfaced as a major issue, didnot do a good job behind Tim Lincecum in Sundays 5-0 loss to the TexasRangers. There were no less than four mistakes that either contributed torun-scoring rallies or were covered up by the efforts of his teammates.
Mistake No.1, fourth inning: Sandoval couldnt make abackhand stop on Craig Gentrys infield single. Its the kind of play JoaquinArias has made several times in the six weeks when Sandoval was on the DL witha fractured hand. Instead of two outs and the pitcher coming up, the Rangerswere able to extend the inning.
Mistake No.2, fourth inning: Pitcher Alexi Ogando put down asacrifice bunt and Sandovals first motion was to cover third base. But Lincecumhad fallen off the mound to the first base side while trying to get some extrafinish on his pitch. Sandoval wasnt athletic enough to change direction andOgando ended up with an infield single, loading the bases. (Bochy said afterthe game that Sandoval shouldve charged the bunt and gotten the out at firstbase.) Ian Kinsler followed with a two-run double that couldve been avoided ifnot for the earlier mistakes in the inning.
Mistake No.3, sixth inning: Sandoval skipped his throw tosecond base after fielding a bunt. Shortstop Brandon Crawford reached backwhile making a difficult pick to bail him out and get the forceout.
Mistake No.4, sixth inning: Sandoval dropped Elvis Andruspotential double-play grounder with one out. The Giants settled for theforceout at second base, then Josh Hamilton followed with a two-run double thatrocked Lincecum from the game.
In addition, Sandoval couldnt knock down Adrian Beltres(admittedly hard-hit) RBI double in the third inning. And he dropped a throwfrom the outfield, too.
It all happened behind Lincecum, who needs a clean game morethan anyone these days.
It wasnt his greatest game there, I agree, Bochy said.He came off a pretty good game. Hell work on it. We will have him come uptomorrow and do some stuff.
Bochy reiterated that he wants Sandoval to play third base,but he also acknowledged the possibility that the club could be forced to movehim across the diamond. The Giants dont have a right-handed hitting firstbaseman to start against left-handers now that Brett Pill is in the minor leagues.
Bochy said Buster Posey could get more starts there, or hecould even take a look at Hector Sanchez. The switch-hitting catcher is gettingmore ground balls at the position in recent days.
This will be an issue soon. The Giants will face two leftiesin their upcoming series against Houston. The Astros plan to start J.A. Happ onWednesday and Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday.
At least Sandoval looks up to the task at the plate. He hadtwo at-bats Sunday hitting right-handed, from which he is still not 100 percentafter left hand surgery, and he didnt look weak over overmatched either time.He grounded out against tough lefty Robbie Ross and scalded a line drive thatthird baseman Adrian Beltre snagged.
It would seem to be an easy call to make Sandoval the firstbaseman, at least against left-handed pitchers. But as Bochy pointed out, thatwould mean playing Arias at third base and Brandon Crawford at short. Thethought had been to get Crawford some rest against lefties by platooning Ariasthere.
Given the way the Giants victories have corresponded withplaying cleaner defensive games, youd think they would want to put their bestdefensive team on the field. Perhaps theyll reach that stage and make aconcession with Sandoval, much as they did late in 2010 when they benched him,moved Juan Uribe to third and stuck Edgar Renteria back in the lineup.
Or maybe Sandoval will work his rear end off and provehimself a capable third baseman again.
For now, at least, its very much a current question -- justas current as Lincecums losing streak.