Q&A with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy

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Q&A with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy

Nov. 5, 2010GIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEO
VIDEO: PART 1 PART 2 PART 3SANFRANCISCO (AP) Giants general manager Brian Sabean and the World Serieschampions have reached out to the representatives for first basemanAubrey Huff and infielder Juan Uribe about bringing them back in 2011.Yet Sabean doesn't figure eithersituation will be resolved soon because he expects both players want torelish in the team's improbable title for a while - and get somemuch-needed rest. Huff said Wednesday he would be "an idiot" not towant to return."It doesn't appear that they're intoo much of a hurry, which is understandable," Sabean said Friday atAT&T Park. "They want to soak this in. I hope it's if and when, butyou don't know how the outside world is going to present itself. Ourbiggest challenge will be to decide how many years and for how muchmoney. It will be definitive, but I can't predict what the action willbe from the outside world on both of those players."San Francisco's payroll should exceed100 million for next season, assuming the Giants are able to reachagreements with all eight of their arbitration-eligible players - leftypitcher Jonathan Sanchez, center fielder Andres Torres, right fielderCody Ross, infielder Mike Fontenot and relievers Ramon Ramirez,Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Chris Ray. That doesn't factor inthe possibility of re-signing Huff and Uribe.Pablo Sandoval, coming off a downyear in his second full major league season, will show up for springtraining without a starting job. After batting .345 in 2008 and .330with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs last year - when he was the last playerleft out of the All-Star game - the free-swinging Sandoval hit .268 in2010 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs while striking out 81 times.The 24-year-old has battled hisweight and the Giants consider conditioning to be one of his problemsat the plate and on defense. This offseason, he isn't headed home toVenezuela to play winter ball. Instead, he will work out in San Diegoand then report to the Giants' Scottsdale, Ariz., training complex inJanuary.A year ago, San Francisco embarked onan "Operation Panda" fitness and nutrition routine for the out-of-shapeslugger - after his nickname of Kung Fu Panda. The new health habitswere hard to maintain, though Sabean also points to some tough times inSandoval's personal life. He went through a divorce and custody fightthat took him back home for a few days during the season.Sabean said the Giants won't put thesame kind of offseason expectations on other young players in thefuture. Namely: rookie catcher Buster Posey."I think we learned a lesson as anorganization that we probably put him too far out there in ouroffseason with the "Panda Inside" banner and we learned that can put alot of pressure on a player or, in fact, maybe in some ways it workedagainst him having to live up to that hype," Sabean said. "The reason Imention this is we're not going to make that same mistake with Posey.We're going to try to let these guys fly under the radar, because weknow the second time around they are marked men. ... This kid right nowis a hole card and he doesn't really have a position until he gets hisact in order."Manager Bruce Bochy, who still livesin San Diego, said he will be in close contact with trainers workingwith the infielder in the coming months.Sandoval played in six games thispostseason, starting at designated hitter in Game 3 of the World Seriesand going 0 for 3 with a strikeout and also grounded into a doubleplay. He made two starts in the NL division series against Atlanta andtwo more in the NLCS versus the Phillies.Sandoval grounded into an NL-high 26 double plays during the regular season for the NL West champs."It's obvious it didn't quite workout like we had hoped. And there comes a time where he's got to takeresponsibility to get himself into the type of shape he needs to bein," Bochy said. "His priority is to get back in the type of shape heneeds to be in to play third base or wherever he plays. He knows what'sat stake and there was some tough love involved here. I think the worldof Pablo, but at the same time, he's got some work to do. He knows it.If he wants to play in the major leagues he's got to get in bettershape. I was up front with him and he understands."While Sabean didn't rule out makinga run at left-handed hitter Carl Crawford, he doesn't see the Giantsbeing able to compete with the front-runners of the Angels, Red Sox andTigers.Still, he hopes players will consider San Francisco a desirable spot following the team's first title since moving West in 1958."I'll start by saying what thenation saw from our crowds, our fans and how it worked both waysbetween the people in the clubhouse and the fans and the fact that wetake great pride in saying San Francisco's a baseball town," Sabeansaid. "It can only be bigger and better and help. It's not only keepingour own players that we want to re-sign, but it's got to be adestination for a lot of people. It can only help. We hope that's afactor."

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

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AP

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)

Earthquakes players react to Kinnear's firing, Leitch's promotion

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USATI

Earthquakes players react to Kinnear's firing, Leitch's promotion

There are few players in Major League Soccer who are as synonymous with their club as Chris Wondolowski is with the San Jose Earthquakes. 

So it speaks to the current climate that is the Quakes when on Monday an emotional Wondolowski fought back tears and apologized as he cut an interview with media members short as he attempted to discuss the firing of Dominic Kinnear. 

The forward, who has played for Kinnear in San Jose and Houston, apologized as he walked away from the scrum on the training pitch back to the team locker room inside Avaya Stadium. 

The news that Kinnear is gone after 2 1/2 seasons with the club hit the players just as shockingly as the team’s fans on Sunday. And on Monday, while general manager Jesse Fioranelli did his best to clarify the intention behind his decision, players and new head coach Chris Leitch tried to steady the ship as the organization is confronted with the only truth that matters: the show must go on. 

“Still swirling, whirling — didn’t see it coming,” Wondolowski said about Kinnear’s firing. “I thought it was a bit interesting. I owe Dom and (assistant head John Spencer) where I am today. So, it’s definitely tough.” 

"We found out as a team Sunday morning,” said longtime Quakes midfielder Shea Salinas. “Came as a surprise to us as it did probably most of you. This is definitely unexpected. And my first reaction is just a little bit of remorse and sadness for Dom and John Spencer. They love this club, they love our team. They wanted us to win and they were doing everything in their power to do so. And I think that’s important to remember, that these guys poured every once of energy into this team.

“We got to speak with Dom [Monday] morning. I haven’t spoken to him personally. He came in and addressed the locker room and just gave us his best wishes and it was really nice and professional of him to have hear what he had to say."

“I hope everyone uses this as a signal to reflect on his own play [during] the first half of this season,” said newcomer and 2017 revelation Florian Jungwirth. “Everyone knows they can do better and like I said, I hope everyone uses it as a signal.” 

The Quakes were riding high after defeating Real Salt Lake on Saturday night 2-1 and propelling themselves back into the MLS playoff race — a place they haven’t visited since 2012. But, according to Fioranelli, the decision to fire Kinnear had been made the week prior after two-to-three months of internal consideration. And regardless of the win or where the Quakes currently sit on the table (fifth in the Western Conference), the time for change at the top was necessary. 

“First, most importantly, it’s the respect we have for Dominic and what he’s done here for this group,” Leitch said. “And I know that respect is shared by everyone in that locker room.”

“Change is scary. And change is also exciting,” Salinas said. "It’s a balance. it’s the same guys in the locker room. We have the same objective. We’re going to go out there to give it our all to win every game.”

Leitch, who will step over from his role as the club’s technical director to front the team on the pitch, echoed his players’ sentiments as the organization looks to turn the page. He’ll attempt to do so with the help of Alex Cavelo, as he'll fill in for John Spencer who was let go along with Kinnear. 

“I’ve been around this club an awfully long time,” Leitch said. “I know a lot about this club. It sure means a whole hell of a lot to me. So, my focus is squarely on that and reaching our goals for this season.”

Without going into specifics, the first-time MLS head coach said the talk of his becoming the team’s head coach started just recently. 

“You always want to be as close as you can to the game so, coaching is extremely interesting as that is the closest part to the game,” Leitch said. “When you work for a club, you do whatever the club wants, you do whatever the clubs need. So in this case, this is what the club needs. It’s always the goal to help the club in the biggest way possible.”

“Chris Leitch is not just the bridge. He is part of the foundation of this club,” Fioranelli said. “For that reason, we did want someone to come from abroad and take over this team We wanted someone that cares, someone that knows the players, knows the team to take on this important next chapter.

“He’s absolutely equipped to take on this challenge,” Fioranelli said, adding that the idea of hiring internally, while sending a message of promotion from within the organization all the way down to the club’s youth endeavors, played a huge part in naming Leitch the head coach.  

While off the pitch, part of the plan is to send a confident message from the general manager all the way down to the season ticket holders, in between the lines, the Quakes face a mountain-esque task of three games in eight days and the pressures that come with being a club that promised improvements to its fanbase since opening a new stadium a pair of seasons ago. 

“My confidence rests in these players,” Leitch said. “I know this is a damn good group. I know that setting expectations anything lower than playoffs is going to be lower than what this group wants.

“Goals are quite simple, they’re all collective. First one is make the playoffs, the second one is we got to make the playoffs and the third one after that is we got to make the playoffs. To say anything less would be to minimize the group that’s in that locker room.”