Tag:San Francisco Giants
Posted on: September 10, 2010 9:25 pm
 

Sandoval's home evacuated, all OK

SAN DIEGO -- Pablo Sandoval had no idea that the house he rents for himself and his mother near San Francisco nearly went up in flames during Thursday night's game here, nearly one more consequence of the horrific fireball gas line explosion that destroyed 38 homes and took four lives in San Bruno.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Giants' Kung Fu Panda, pretty sure his house is OK, was recounting the story of how the catastrophe caused his mother, Amelia, to be evacuated ... and then drive for the very first time in the United States.

"She was scared," Sandoval said. "So she got in the car and started driving."

With Pablo in San Diego with the Giants, Amelia -- who has driven before in the family's native Venezuela -- piled herself and Sandoval's 25-year-old cousin into Panda's Cadillac Escalade and set out for San Jose. Amelia's other son, Michael, plays in the Giants' farm system and was in San Jose preparing for a Class A California League playoff game.

"I don't care about the house, I care about my family," Sandoval said. "My mom had never driven in the States."

Sandoval had no idea of the explosion or evacuation until he returned to the clubhouse following San Francisco's 7-3 win Thursday night. There, he said he had around 35 text messages waiting on his cell phone asking things like "Is your house OK?" and "Is your family OK?"

"I called my mom and she was so scared she was crying," Sandoval said.

The area remained without electricity, water and cell phone service Friday, according to Sandoval.

Amelia Sandoval, who fortunately completed the drive without incident, remained in San Jose.

"She's not coming back until I come back," Sandoval said.

The Giants return home following Sunday's series finale here.

Meantime, the fire was said to be fully contained by noon on Friday. A total of 52 people were injured in the blast. San Bruno is located in an area overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the airport.

Likes: Set to face Padres ace Mat Latos in the marquee pitching matchup of the weekend on Sunday, Giants ace Tim Lincecum has pitched like he expects in his past two starts following his 0-5 August. "It was hell," he says. "I've never been through something like that, ever. It was an awakening." ... Reading Dan Epstein's Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s. The photo of Oscar Gamble with the globe-sized Afro on the cover is worth the price of the book alone. It's all there: The ugly uniforms, the artificial turf, Disco Demolition night, some great Charles O. Finley stories and, of course, the Fritz Peterson-Mike Kekich family swap. "Some nights I would go home with Fritz, and some nights I would go home with Mike," Susan Kekich is quoted in the book. So is then-Yankees manager Ralph Houk: "In all my years in baseball, that was the biggest surprise that ever happened to me." And, of course, then-Yankees general manager Lee MacPhail's classic line: "We may have to call off Family Day this year." ... Is Saturday perfect or what? Stretch-run baseball and some outstanding college football games going all day and night.

Dislikes: Detroit's Carlos Guillen, out for the season because of knee surgery. ... Subway toasting their sandwiches. It slows down the process. Do we have to try to be all things to all people?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I wasn't born for diggin' deep holes
"I'm not made for pavin' long roads
"I ain't cut out to climb high line poles
"But I'm pretty good at drinkin' beer

"I'm not the type to work in a bank
"I'm no good at slappin' on paint
Don't have a knack for makin' motors crank, no
But I'm pretty good at drinkin' beer"

-- Billy Currington, Pretty Good at Drinkin' Beer

 

Posted on: September 9, 2010 2:07 am
 

Padres sweep Dodgers, Giant showdown next

SAN DIEGO -- Following a victory over German troops in Egypt during World War II in 1942, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

And as they were saying in the San Diego clubhouse after sweeping the Dodgers with a 4-0 whitewashing on Wednesday night to regain traction following that vicious 10-game losing streak. ...

"The baseball season is long and there are ebbs and flows," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Our season, up until that point, was pretty steady. I think it's a tribute to our guys. We hit a bump in the road, and I thought our guys showed resolve. We pitched well, played sound defense and executed."

Their breath back, the first-place Padres now head into a colossal four-game, showdown series with San Francisco beginning on Thursday evening, a season hanging in the balance.

With the Giants losing in Arizona on Wednesday, the Padres pushed their NL West lead -- six games as recently as 12 days ago -- back up to two games.

The Padres have beaten San Francisco in nine of 11 games this season, but the Giants have undergone significant changes from what the Padres saw in April and May (Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Jose Guillen, Cody Ross, Madison Bumgarner).

The exclamation mark for the four-game series comes at the end, when aces Mat Latos and Tim Lincecum oppose each other on Sunday.

Latos, signed by Padres scout Joe Bochy, brother of Giants manager Bruce Bochy, on Tuesday set a major-league record by working his 15th consecutive start in which he worked at least five innings with two or fewer runs allowed.

With the Giants on deck and a two-game lead in their grasp, it turns out that 10-game losing streak was not the end for the Padres. Given their sweep of the Dodgers, it probably was not even the beginning of the end.

But it clearly was the end of a beginning that saw them join the Yankees as the only teams in the game not to lose more than three in a row, the end of a beginning that was almost too smooth to believe.

Now, in whipping the Dodgers, the Padres looked like themselves again.

They won Wednesday's game behind six shutout innings from rookie Cory Luebke, 25, who was making just the second big-league start of his career. Just fill in the blanks by day, the pitching has been excellent. Black said Luebke will get the ball again for another start five days hence in Colorado.

The three-run sixth against Chad Billingsley was as good an indicator as anything that the whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-th
eir-parts Padres were back: Lefty Will Venable dropped an opposite-field blooper down the left-field line for a single, speedster Everth Cabrera bunted for a hit and pinch-hitter David Eckstein beat out a bunt attempt when Billingsley threw late to third.

Bases loaded, speedy leadoff man Luis Durango dropped a two-run single into left. Then, slugger Adrian Gonzalez cracked a sacrifice fly.

"We're getting back to the way we play," Eckstein said.

"These are the things we've worked on because we knew we needed to do them," Black said. "When they go our way, it doesn't surprise us. We've worked on these things as far back as February."

Gonzalez, in a conversation before the game, said that the first several games of the losing streak was simply business as usual for the Padres -- they were playing sound ball but were simply losing. Toward the end of the streak, though, Gonzalez said he could see some of the players pressing. That eased immensely, he said, with the first two wins over the Dodgers.

So ... a new beginning for the Padres?

"We hope so," Eckstein said. "We're not going to answer that question until we clinch or don't clinch, because we'll hear about it the rest of our lives if we don't. We just have to focus on playing our game."

Likes: Trevor Hoffman earning career save No. 600. Congratulations to a man who has had a very difficult season but remains pure class. ... Former Cincinnati ace Gary Nolan visiting with the Reds in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. ... Intense scoreboard watching every night now. ... The portable iPod players. It's given yet another new life to my iTouch. Reds manager Dusty Baker has one that travels with him -- it's usually queued up in the manager's office -- and he jokes that it's his "roommate." ... The Arcade Fire's new disc, The Suburbs. ... Digging this season of Mad Men. ... Ah, back to school. A young lady was wearing this T-shirt in the St. Louis airport the other day: "We didn't come to college to find our husbands. We came to find our bridesmaids."

Dislikes: The Dodgers are playing like they've quit. Totally disinterested. ... Arizona manager Kirk Gibson being stung by a scorpion at his Arizona home this week. Among the only things more disgusting than scorpions are tarantulas. ... Human beings continue to get larger and larger with each generation. Airplane aisles continue to get smaller and smaller. The future of air travel? I don't even want to know. Let's just say that the larger people and smaller aisles are going to clash pretty badly here in a few years.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Everyone I know
"Everywhere I go
"People need some reason to believe"

-- Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

 

Posted on: August 27, 2010 3:15 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 3:15 pm
 

3 to watch: The dwindling off days edition

Off days are precious in late August, and not just for players headed for the September fires of the stretch run.

The Giants moved into the lead in the NL wild-card chase this week before taking a break Thursday, which surely made the coaches as happy as the players at this point. Not long ago, a couple of their coaches calculated how many ground balls they hit to infielders in need of work each season.

I don't know the exact formula used, but the number they came up with was 44,000 ground balls a year.

"Then you go, 'How many years?'" third-base coach Tim Flannery says.

He's been coaching 15 years, so, multiply that by 44,000, and by this baseball math, Flannery figures he's slapped 660,000 or so fungoes during his career. He's had six or so cortisone injections in each elbow. Thanks to ulnar nerve issues, his right pinky and ring fingers currently are numb.

"Some might argue that my head is, too," Flannery jokes.

Giants bench coach Ron Wotus has hit so many fungoes he's had surgery to re-attach a tendon to his elbow.

"Thought it was tendinitis at first," Wotus says.

Flannery was wearing an elastic compression brace on each elbow after first smearing them with Tiger Balm.

"A lot of Advil, a lot of ice," he says.

Which pretty much is the prescription for everybody at this point in the season. There aren't many off days left. The Yankees have just three (Sept. 9, 16 and 30). Trying to catch the Twins, the White Sox have just three as well (Sept. 2, 13 and 23). The Twins have four -- one on Monday, then identical dates with the Sox.

First-place San Diego has the biggest grind, with only two remaining the rest of the season -- Sept. 2 and 20. The Giants have four (Sept. 2, 13, 20 and 27). In the NL Central, Cincinnati has three (Sept. 2, 13 and 27) and the Cardinals, having slipped to four games behind the Reds in the NL Central, have only two (Sept. 2 and 20).

On to 3 to watch:

1. In a place they never thought they'd be after having swept three in Cincinnati Aug. 9-11, the Cardinals enter the weekend looking to make up some serious ground before getting one last shot at the Reds head-to-head in St. Louis next weekend. Trailing the Reds by four games, right-hander Jaime Garcia takes the ball first in Cardinals at Nationals, Friday night (7:05 p.m. ET) in Nationals Park and, when he does, maybe it'll hearten Washington fans blue over Stephen Strasburg's impending elbow surgery. Garcia is a Poster Boy survivor of Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, to the point where he's a leading contender for the NL Rookie of the Year award. It's a weirdly busy weekend in D.C. -- not only will this series be played under the Strasburg pall, but Cards manager Tony La Russa and slugger Albert Pujols are scheduled to appear Saturday at  Glenn Beck's highly controversial rally in Washington.

2. Last time out, Tampa Bay's Matt Garza hooked up with Oakland's Dallas Braden in a battle of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters this summer (a perfect game, in Braden's case). Now, in Red Sox at Rays, Saturday night (7:10 ET) in Tropicana Field, Garza faces another pitcher with a no-hitter on his resume, Boston's Clay Buchholz, who did it in September, 2007. Being that Buchholz's 2.26 ERA leads the AL, the middle game of this series should sizzle as the Rays work toward holding Boston off in the playoff race. Tampa Bay enters the weekend tied with the Yankees for the AL East lead, and the Red Sox, clinging to playoff hopes despite missing Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis (among others), are 5 1/2 back. Boston has six games left against Tampa Bay heading into the weekend and three remaining against the Yankees.

3. The Giants offense bludgeoned its way back to life against the Reds this week (38 runs, 53 hits over three games), but if Bruce Bochy's club is going to hang on to the NL wild-card lead, Tim Lincecum is going to have to become The Man again. Loser of four consecutive starts for the first time in his big-league career, the two-time Cy Young winner pitches the opener of Diamondbacks at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park. Lincecum hasn't won in a month, since July 30. Now is a good time to start.

Posted on: August 24, 2010 2:34 am
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Posted on: August 24, 2010 2:29 am
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Posted on: August 24, 2010 2:26 am
 

Cody Ross: Who loves ya, baby?

Cody Ross: Who loves ya, baby?

SAN FRANCISCO -- Wanted or not, outfielder Cody Ross joined the Giants on Monday, arriving in the clubhouse at 6:10 p.m. and cracking his first base hit and scoring his first run for San Francisco about three hours later.

This keeps up, maybe the Giants really will want him.

The odd spot in which Ross finds himself is that the Giants already had five outfielders and the speculation is intense that they claimed Ross off of waivers solely to block NL West rival San Diego from claiming him.

When Florida didn't pull him back, Ross became property of the Giants. And San Francisco is on the hook for paying the remainder of his $4.5 million salary for 2010 -- approximately $1.1 million.

Ross, 29, grinned when asked whether he really feels wanted in San Francisco.

"When I heard, I knew the situation over here and how many outfielders were here, but that's something I can't control," he said. "I'm not going to try to play manager or GM. I'm just going to go all out and when they tell me what I need to do and when I'm going to play or where I'm going to play, I'll just do it. And I'll try to be a good teammate."

Likes: Nice pre-game tribune to the late Bobby Thomson and his famous home run -- The Shot Heard 'Round the World -- before Monday night's game in San Francisco. They replayed the clip on the big scoreboard (yes, complete with Russ Hodges' famous call, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!") and there was a moment of silence. The Giants, the franchise for whom Thomson hit the homer to win the 1951 pennant, had not been home since Thomson passed. ... Nice to see how healthy former infielder Aaron Boone is following open heart surgery little more than a year ago. Boone was here in his capacity as an ESPN broadcaster and looks great. ... No question Texas manager Ron Washington did the right thing in removing Rich Harden after 6 2/3 innings Monday despite the fact that he was no-hitting Minnesota. He had thrown 111 pitches and it wasn't too long ago that he came off of the disabled list. The guy has a history of arm trouble and you simply cannot crush him, even for a no-hitter.

Dislikes: I know it's a chance to play in meaningful September (and possibly October) games, but if Johnny Damon goes to Boston, he's the ultimate sellout. And I don't think he is. I think there's more depth to Damon than people think. ... Finishing Pat Conroy's Beach Music, and while his writing remains superb, the plot in the second half of this book unravels badly, in my opinion.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

" On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
Insisting that the world be turnin' our way
And our way"

-- Willie Nelson, On the Road Again

Posted on: August 13, 2010 1:56 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2010 8:57 pm
 

DiPoto, Gibson making names for selves in Arizona

The reconstruction of the Arizona Diamondbacks has a long way to go, but the club this month has begun to settle in enough that it's worth asking:

Have the D-backs shown enough under interim general manager Jerry DiPoto and interim field manager Kirk Gibson that those "interim" tags will be removed?

Quick answer: Probably still too early, but let's just say the jobs that both men are doing is not going unnoticed by key head honchos.

"They've done a tremendous job," Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall says. "They both have. I think Kirk Gibson has really changed the makeup and the environment around the team. They've really responded to him.

"I'm pulling publicly for both of these guys."

One thing Hall has certainly noticed: Entering the club's series opener in Washington on Friday night, the Diamondbacks had either won or tied their past four consecutive series. They won three of four games in Milwaukee this week, took two of three from first-place San Diego, split a four-game set with the Nationals and won two of three against the Mets dating back to July 30.

Since the trading deadline, right-hander Daniel Hudson, acquired from the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, is 2-0 and has allowed just three earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. Hudson was one of six pitchers obtained in trades by DiPoto -- including three from the Angels for Dan Haren -- since July 25.

"There will be some candidates we'll talk to, with Jerry obviously being at the top of the list," Hall says. "After that, we'll look at managers."

Understandably, Hall wants a permanent general manager in place before the field manager so the GM can choose someone he's comfortable with.

As for Hall?

"If at the end of the day I end up with Jerry DiPoto as general manager and Kirk Gibson as manager, I'd be happy," he says based on how things are going now. "I'm thrilled with the work I've seen so far from both of them."

Likes: Wow, Jose Guillen and Pat Burrell now swinging it for the Giants. With them and the outspoken Aubrey Huff, the San Francisco clubhouse will not be dull. ... This weekend's Giants-Padres series will be great fun. The Padres won the first seven games against Bruce Bochy's club this year, but this is a different Giants' team now. ... Fine, fine acting performance by Derek Jeter in The Other Guys. He's got one line and he delivers it with the gravitas of ... well, OK. So I exaggerate. But the movie's funny, the plot entertaining, Will Ferrell is back on his 'A' game and in the aftermath of the Jeter shooting, the cops even get a line in ripping A-Rod. Good stuff. ... Tyler Kepner's excellent piece in the New York Times on Ryne Sandberg managing at Triple-A Iowa while hoping for a chance to do it with the Cubs. ... How entertaining was it when the Kings of Leon had to abort their concert in St. Louis a few weeks back because pigeons kept crapping on them? ... Puget Sound and Ferndale, Wash. ... A weekend at home with baseball on XM radio and on television with the MLB Extra Innings package.

Dislikes: When Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez unleashes his inner punk, it is not a pretty picture.


Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"It was 1989 my thoughts were short my hair was long
"Caught somewhere between a boy and man
"She was 17 and she was far from in-between
"It was summer-time in Northern Michigan
"Splashing through the sand-bar, talking by the camp fire
"It's the simple things in life like when and where
"We didn't have no internet but man I never will forget
"The way the moon light shined upon her hair"

-- Kid Rock, All Summer Long

Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:47 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 10:55 pm
 

Rhodes first-time All-Star scholar at 40

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- While we've spent so much time this season paying attention to such hot young phenom pitchers as Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez, Tampa Bay's David Price, Florida's Josh Johnson and even non-All-Star Stephen Strasburg, don't think we're going to let Arthur Rhodes' debut All-Star appearance pass without fanfare.

Rhodes, the Cincinnati set-up man?

You bet. At 40, Rhodes is the oldest All-Star "rookie" ever in the National League.

But don't expect the rest of the NL staff to assign him the task that usually goes to the rookie in the bullpen: Hauling the game's supply of candy, gum and sunflower seeds to the pen in a hot pink Barbie backpack (or something, maybe, in the Dora the Explorer line).

"I don't think that will happen," NL third baseman Scott Rolen, Rhodes' Reds teammate, says. "That could get ugly in a hurry."

"I don't think I want to make him do anything," says the Giants' two-time Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum, who is just 26. "He's a tremendous guy. I grew up watching him with the Mariners.

"Plus, I kind of look like more the rookie, so I can't do any rookie hazing."

In all seriousness, Rhodes, humbled by the late-career honor, says he became emotional when Reds manager Dusty Baker informed him of the All-Star honor. Of course it turned into a moment Rhodes always will remember.

"Dusty called me into his office and told me I was getting traded," Rhodes says, smiling.

Destination?

"He told me I got traded to the New York Mets," Rhodes says. "And Brandon Phillips came in and Dusty said he had been traded too, and then Scott Rolen came in and he said he had been traded, too.

"Then Dusty said, 'You're all three going to the All-Star Game.' I got quiet. I couldn't say a word. I said, 'Thank you very much.'

"I didn't know it would take this long. I know I could have made it in 2001 [when Rhodes went 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 71 appearances for the Mariners, no doubt with Seattle-native Lincecum watching each appearance].

"Now it's 2010, and I made it, and I'm so proud."

Rhodes earlier this year equaled a single-season record with 33 consecutive scoreless appearances, something accomplished before only by Mark Guthrie (2002 Mets) and Mike Myers (2000 Rockies). Over 41 appearances for Baker's Reds in 2010, Rhodes has compiled a 1.54 ERA and a 3-3 record.

He's taken a lot of ribbing about being the oldest player ever to make his first All-Star appearance, especially the day it became official, when the Reds were in Chicago.

"I got teased every day when we found out," he says. "Teammates, text messages ... I'm proud to be a rookie in the All-Star Game, I'll tell you right now. I'm happy I'm here. You can call me Old Man All-Star."

As for as the possibility of being the designated donkey to haul the candy, seeds and other goodies to the bullpen, Rhodes, 19 years and eight teams into his decorated career, smiles.

"I think I've got too many years to be carrying all that stuff," he says before, a few moments later, adding, "This is the best thing that's happened to me in my whole career."

 
 
 
 
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