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 Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere. 

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Matt Cain entered spring training competing with Ty Blach for the fifth starter spot.

On Thursday morning, Giants GM Bobby Evans provided an update on the position battle.

"Blach put up a good spring for himself, and it does make the decision harder," Evans said on KNBR 680. "We'll process it today with the coaching staff and Boch and I, and we'll make a final call."

Back in early February, Evans said: "“In a perfect world, Matt Cain would be Matt Cain and he would take that spot."

Over seven games (six starts) this spring, Cain went 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA.

[PAVLOVIC: Cain makes case for Giants' rotation spot in final Cactus League start]

Blach went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA over seven appearances (two starts).

Cain is making nearly $21 million this season in what is the final guaranteed year of the 6-year, $127.5 million deal he signed in April 2012.

"Again, with the track record that Matt Cain's had overall, it would seem easy," Evans said. "But yet, the last couple years have been so rough and we've had the injuries and the hard contact against him.

"But he did finish strong with the Cubbies (Cubs) and I think it does give him an edge as we close out this decision."