Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

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Bochy, Sabean expect lineup consistency with Sandoval back

SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval left the Giants game againstthe San Diego Padres on July 24 with a strained left hamstring, but watched histeammates pull off a win for a 2.5-game lead in the National League West. Aftermissing 18 games, Sandoval returns to a club now tied for the division leadwith the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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Its good to have him back, Giants manager Bruce Bochysaid. When you lose your big guy, I guess you hope you hold ground until hegets back and I think weve done a pretty good job of that and now we have himback in the lineup with Hunter Pence. It just makes us that much betteroffensively.Sandoval saw his first action in Mondays ugly 14-2 loss toopen a three-game series with the MLB-leading Washington Nationals. After anunsuccessful pinch-hit appearance late in Mondays game, Sandoval gets hisfirst chance to impact a new-look starting lineup that includes Pence.Before his brief appearance Monday, Sandoval played in three rehab games withthe Single-A San Jose Giants. He went 3-for-10 with a double, but wasnt runningat 100 effort. As far as his timing, thats why we wanted him to go downand get a few at-bats, Bochy said. Thats what youre trying to do when theygo to rehab and play two or three games, so you dont have the break-in periodor that three-to-four game period where theyre trying to get their timing. Heshould be fine.Bochy is confident that Sandovals hamstring will hold up to the pressure of aMajor League Baseball game, but he still isnt ready to declare his youngslugger 100 healthy.Id say 90-95, Bochy said. It takes a little while toget this thing completely gone. At the same time, hes playable. Players playlike this.Giants general manager Brian Sabean told Comcast SportsNets Jim Kozimor onChronicle Live Tuesday that he expects Sandoval to be his old self after theteams next road trip."Currently the plan isto play him the next two days, Sabean said. We get the off day on Thursdayand evaluate how we'll be able to play him on the road trip. He should be 100percent by that time. WithSandoval now back to being a staple in the middle of the Giants lineup, itleaves Bochy with a daily debate about who to start at second base. Tuesday,Marco Scutaro got the call, but Bochy said he will start Ryan Theriot at secondWednesday and leave Scutaro on the bench. Ileave that up to Boch, as we always do, Sabean said. Scutaro has done a nicejob and so has Theriot so that's a nice problem. Scutaro can also playshortstop. So we have a lot more depth and versatility, which you need.Otherthan the flexibility at second base, Bochy said he expects to use a similarlineup to the one he penciled in Tuesday moving forward. That lineup includesSandoval batting ahead of Pence and behind Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey.Id say this is probably pretty close to what well haveout there for the most part, Bochy said.Sabean is in agreement:Ithink it'll go down, pretty much from here on in, the way Bochy set it up(Tuesday), Sabean said.Bochy has said previously that he would not push Sandoval to play first base inthe near future, but wanted to leave that option open eventually. On ChronicleLive Tuesday, Sabean implied that eventually may mean next season.He willplay third base primarily, Sabean said. I think you'll probably see him therethe rest of the year. Hit fifth, at least in tonight's lineup, that's the waywe'll go.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.

https://twitter.com/baseballhall/status/821855144681897988


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.