Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants


Urban: Sandoval's return pumps life into Giants

June 14, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Knowing his teammates expected the world from him, if not a couple of moons and perhaps a star or six, he went out and delivered on virtually every front.Pressure?No. Not to Pablo Sandoval.He gets it.Pressure is struggling to make rent on your one-bedroom apartment, in which your three kids are staring longingly into an empty refrigerator.Being asked to breathe a little life into a clubhouse, boost a struggling offense and make a few plays? That's straight-up fun for the Panda, and he shows it in every way.Before Tuesday's 6-5 win over the host Diamondbacks, Sandoval, in his first game back since surgery to remove a broken bone near his wrist, gave Giants manager Bruce Bochy a big hug in the dugout. That Bochy accepted it spoke volumes about what the man-child of a third baseman brings to the defending world champs.NEWS: Giants hold off D'backs, preserve win for Cain
Bochy, you might have noticed, isn't exactly the cuddly type. His fairly gruff appearance and demeanor suggest he's far more likely to kill a bear than to hug a Panda, but hug Sandoval he did.Similarly, the rest of the Giants embraced the notion of Sandoval's return, hoping his energy, positivity and goofy perma-grin would somehow make the still-fresh memory of Freddy Sanchez -- the Giants' second All-Star candidate to go down in a heap of pain in the past three weeks -- fade. That's a lot to ask. Pretty much impossible, in fact. But Sandoval did what he could, loving every minute of it.First he set an early tone with an RBI single in his first at-bat back.
After lining out in his second at-bat, he drew a walk and scored in the fifth inning.That's right. A walk. Patient Panda? Eh. Probably not. Ever. But a more patient Panda is progress enough.Just as important, Sandoval played a rock-solid third base, highlighted by the tremendous play he made on a tough short-hop before making a stellar off-balance throw, getting a force at second base for the first out of the eighth after a leadoff walk. The D'Backs didn't score in the inning. Nor did they score in the ninth, when Sandoval made a selfless play that ended up meaning nothing but deserves mention.He took a spike to the leg from Kelly Johnson, who was advancing to third on a wild pitch, because he expertly blocked the base with his foot. The umpire missed the call, and the game ended shortly thereafter, so it didn't really matter that the call was blown. But you can bet the play mattered to Sandoval's teammates.The guy's fresh off the DL and he's putting himself in harm's way trying to nail down a win? Some might call that overzealous. In baseball your teammates consider it heroic.A real-life hero, of course, finds a way to make that rent, to fill that fridge.But in Sandoval, the Giants were looking for a baseball hero Tuesday, and they got one. A big, silly, smiling one that you can't help but want to hug back.

Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?


Mailbag: How would Raiders' move affect A's ballpark search?

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With one week to go until the A’s break camp and head north, there are still some roster issues to be cleared up.

The big-picture question regarding this team, obviously, is where it might be building a future ballpark.

With all this in mind, we try to provide some clarity on questions submitted via Twitter:

From @Cjkittrell: If the Raiders move to Vegas, does the Coliseum site jump to the top of the list of possible ballpark sites by default?

That’s not necessarily the case. You have to remember what the A’s crave more than anything in a ballpark location: A thriving surrounding area — with restaurants, bars, shops, etc. — that will make the ballpark an attraction beyond the baseball game itself. Team president Dave Kaval has talked of wanting a “ballpark village” around a new venue. A downside of the Coliseum is that there is nothing around the area right now that would attract fans besides the baseball. Other sites, including Howard Terminal, appear to have more potential as far as surrounding attractions.

This doesn’t count out the Coliseum as an option. As Kaval has said, it’s the only site of four being considered that the A’s know is truly viable. There’s comfort in that. And the BART station, freeway access and available parking are big plusses. But something else I’ll mention in regard to the Raiders: Even if they announce a move to Las Vegas, they have lease agreements that would keep them playing football at the Coliseum at least through the 2018 season while their Vegas stadium is under construction. With the Raiders likely to be on the property for that period, it could complicate the A’s own hypothetical construction plans for the Coliseum site.

From @44BWells: With the emergence of Franklin Barrreto and the contract of Jed Lowrie, what's Joey Wendle's present and future?

They appear murky, don’t they? First and foremost, Wendle has to recover from a sore right shoulder that’s kept him out of exhibitions for a while. But the acquisition of utility man Adam Rosales meant Wendle probably wasn’t going to make the club out of spring training anyway. He’s got a fan in manager Bob Melvin, who was impressed with Wendle defensively last September. It was Wendle’s glove that was the question mark when he arrived from the Cleveland Indians. Barreto has the star-caliber upside and the hype. Once the A’s deem him ready, Lowrie becomes a trade possibility. But Wendle’s advantage is that, to a degree, he’s already proven himself in the majors. He’s a known quantity at this level. If a second baseman is needed early in the season, Wendle could get a call-up before Barreto if Barreto gets off to a slow start.

As for Wendle’s future beyond 2017, it would serve him well to be able to handle as many positions as possible. He realizes this. That’s why he volunteered to play winter ball in Mexico this past offseason, where he played lots of shortstop. His role moving forward could be as more of a utility guy, because I see Barreto growing roots at second base.

@ONChristy: Do the A's have the pieces, both in the majors and minors, to make a run in 2018-2020?

Well, it’s definitely tough to look down the road and forecast a three-year block. Here’s a short answer for you: They better! All of the trades of the past couple seasons have been made with an eye toward stockpiling young talent — especially on the pitching side. Contending this year will be a tall order. But by the end of this season, I’d expect Barreto and third baseman Matt Chapman to have gotten their feet wet in the big leagues. There’s a strong chance you’ll also see young pitchers such as Frankie Montas and Daniel Gossett up. There’s a large core of young players who are on the cusp of being major league ready.

Add to that some core veterans such as Khris Davis, Kendall Graveman Marcus Semien and (if he’s not traded) Sonny Gray— who will all be under team control through 2019 at least — and the A’s have a solid foundation for contending in that timeframe you mention. But let’s face it, there’s a lot that can and usually does happen over any three-year span that completely changes what we think we know going in.

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

Week after signing with Vikings, ex-Raiders RB Murray undergoes surgery

A week after signing a deal with the Vikings, former Raiders running back Latavius Murray has undergone ankle surgery.

The Vikings made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Minnesota issued the following statement regarding the surgery:

"Vikings RB Latavius Murray had successful ankle surgery today. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. We were aware of the required surgery prior to signing Latavius on March 16. Latavius is expected to fully recover and be available for training camp."

Murray's deal with the Vikings is reported worth $15 million over three years, but can reportedly be voied after the first year.

Drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Murray became the Raiders' primary running back midway through the 2015 season. In his three years in Oakland, Murray carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015.