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Monday, February 23, 2009

Giants Spring Training Notes

What has been a relatively quiet spring training in Scottsdale so far is about to start picking up. The Giants have a scheduled intresquad scrimmage planned for Tuesday, followed by Wednesday's Cactus league opener against the Indians.

The only Giant who is leaving the team and heading off to the World Baseball Classic is Jonathan Sanchez. The Giants' 26 year-old lefty has been penciled in to start the Puerto Rican squad's third game of the tournament. The interesting thing here is that Sanchez is also battling the recovering Noah Lowry for the fifth starters spot in the Giants' rotation. Now, Sanchez had a leg up on Lowry before pitchers and catchers reported and absolutely nothing has changed. Sanchez's delivery has apparently been toned down and smoothed out a little bit which is hopefully going to keep him in the strike zone more often and he's looked in control in his first 2 sessions throwing to hitters. Lowry on the other hand, is still trying to work his way back to the mound as he's been relegated to throwing off of only flat ground over the last couple of days. He's been reporting no serous set-backs, but it's still undetermined when exactly he will throw to live hitters or possibly make his Cactus league debut. I like Lowry and for numerous reasons, I'm hoping he'll get healthy this spring, but I'm not too optimistic that he will be ready for opening day.

With the Giants getting ready to close down spring workouts and start Cactus league games, live pitching/batting practice has kicked into another gear, and it's still the pitchers that are for the most part, dominating these match ups. Fred Lewis has been one of the more impressive hitters during the sessions though as he has displayed some intriguing power. Lewis has also mentioned that he expects to be more of a power threat this season as he has one full year under his belt and has familiarized himself with NL pitching. The Giants starting left fielder is still battling an ankle injury that pre-maturely ended his 2008 season, and may not start the first couple games of the exhibition season.

Another young outfielder who's been hitting for noticeable pop during batting practice has been Nate Schierholtz. I've seen pictures of Nate this spring and he looks like he added some upper body bulk this winter and that should translate to some more power. Schierholtz has displayed above average power numbers in the minor leagues, but has only hit one long ball in 187 big league at-bats, which for a corner outfielder, isn't quite what your looking for. Now nobody ever projected Schierholtz to be a big power guy at the major league level, but averaging 15-20 jacks a year easily within his grasp if he gets the opportunity and lives up to his potential. He's probably a safe bet to hit around .300 too (as he has in every season of his pro career so far). Like I've said a few times already this off-season, this is going to be a big year for Schierholtz. The Giants have Randy Winn's contract expiring after the season and would love for the 25 year-old Schierholtz to force himself into the mix and allow them to let Winn walk if need be.

Also, as I mentioned at the top of the post, the Giants will hold an intresquad scrimmage on Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium. Surprisingly, Randy Johnson and Barry Zito will start for each team as both requested more work before they start their cactus league assignments. I wouldn't expect for either of them to go much more than an inning or two though and then we'll likely start seeing some of the younger arms like Kevin Pucetas and Henry Sosa. Expect the same thing for the position players, as they'll likely get an at-bat or two then yield to the younger guys. Still, it will be the first live action of spring and it should be interesting to see how things go. The Cactus league exhibition season begins on Wednesday and the Giants game will actually be on TV. For those with Direct TV, you can catch the game on D-TV channel 662 at noon. I haven't heard any confirmation but I believe Matt Cain will get the start. Cain has slimmed down this spring and looks determined to take that next step this year. I really can't wait to see how the weight-loss will improve his overall effectiveness on the mound. Lincecum also could get the start, but he's been kind of ill lately and the Giants may keep him in Scottsdale.

*Note: I also wanted to post this link to Pablo Sandoval's incredible VWL home run derby performance. It's not the highest quality, but you can see some of his moonshots. This kid has some sneaky power and could very well hit 20 bombs this season.
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4 Comments:

  • At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    I think the WBC will be an excellent experience for young Jonathan Sanchez. I wonder what would happen though if Sanchez struggled in the WBC while Lowry got healthy? Could Sanchez lose his job by a bad performance in the WBC? I think he'll do just fine, but I always look for the "what-ifs".

    -J-Bill

     
  • At 5:12 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Yeah, I agree, I think the WBC experience will be great for Sanchez. He threw so poorly at the end of last season that a confidence boost of doing well in the tourney would work wonders for him as well.

    As far as the battle between him and Lowry though, Lowry needs get healthy and get on the mound before he can start worrying about battling for any rotation spot. It's looking more and more likely that he could spend April in Fresno trying to get healthy and on track. I don't know though, it wouldn't surprise me if Lowry didn't pitch at all for the Giants agian this season. These lingering issues could force him under the knife for the TJ surgery. Hope I'm wrong, but he's seeming like a likely candidate.

     
  • At 11:13 PM, Anonymous True Giants Fan said…

    Intrasquad game supposedly was dominated by pitching. Even Zito went two scoreless innings. Can't wait for tomorrow's spring opener!!! Go Timmy!!!

     
  • At 12:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for that Pablo Sandoval link. That guy is crazy good. The 2nd ball he hit and the one he hit about 40 seconds in to that video were killed! Those things had to go at least 470 feet. Holly Wow!!! Didn't know he had that kind of power.

     

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