World Series MVP Sandoval gave Giants all the momentum

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World Series MVP Sandoval gave Giants all the momentum

DETROIT -- Asked early Monday morning about the existence of momentum in baseball and if Pablo Sandoval provided his Giants teammates with it in Game 1 of the World Series, Will Clark had a simple answer.

The 1989 National League championship series MVP and current special assistant to the Giants said Sandoval gave the club three jolts of confidence earlier in the week when he blasted three home runs in the opener of the Fall Classic, including two off Justin Verlander.

Sandoval was named the 2012 World Series MVP after the Giants closed out a series sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 4-3 win in 10 innings at Comerica Park late Sunday night. The man affectionately known by his teammates as Panda became the first Venezuelan-born World Series MVP after he hit .500 in the Series in 16 at-bats with a double, three homers and four RBIs.

You bet your ass there is (momentum), Clark said. He definitely got us off to a whale of a start in the World Series against probably one of the best pitchers in the big leagues. To be MVP, he deserves every bit of it. Thats a big momentum switch.

Much of the talk ahead of the 108th Fall Classic surrounded Detroits starting rotation, which was headed by Verlander, the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young winner. While the Giants required six straight wins in elimination games to reach the World Series, the Tigers breezed to an AL pennant behind their pitching.

But Giants players said any internal doubts about they may have had about their chances were erased when Sandoval launched a 0-2, 95-mph, letter-high fastball from Verlander into the stands in center field in the first inning of Game 1.

Its something we needed for sure, reliever Javier Lopez said. Obviously, Verlanders one tremendous pitcher. To be able to go out there and know were facing a guy throwing 95-plus and the stuff that he has, and the outings he had (against) the Oakland As and the Yankees. We knew we were going to have a tough test and that was awesome. (Sandoval) stepped up not just then but all series long for us.

Sandovals average was the ninth highest in World Series history for players who had a minimum of 15 at-bats. The Giants third baseman went 1-for-5 in Sundays victory and had a hit in all four games.

Less than five days after his Game 1 heroics, Sandoval said hes still in shock of how the Series opener transpired.

I still cant believe that game, Sandoval said. Its the game of your dreams. You dont want to wake up. You do a lot of things to win that game because (hes) one of the best pitchers in the league, you want to try and face him and try and win the game.

Wednesdays encounter wasnt the first between Sandoval and Verlander. In July, Sandoval hit a three-run triple off Verlander in the All-Star Game at Kansas City as the NL rolled to an 8-0 victory over the AL. Teammate Angel Pagan said Sandoval proved the at-bat wasnt a fluke in Game 1 and the rest of the World Series.

People was wondering (if) what happened in the All-Star Game was real and (Sandoval) showed that it was real, Pagan said. Hes a very tough competitor. Hes a very tough hitter. Ive said it before many times -- whenever hes hot sometimes he can be too hot. He showed it right there.

Dan Hayes is the White Sox Insider for CSNChicago.com

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."