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Friday, March 29, 2013

Giants Notes: Belt, Sandoval and Lincecum

I just wanted to run down some quick notes before we started to break down the NL West as the Cactus League has come to an end and the Giants are back in town for these final few games with Oakland before heading to LA to start their World Series defense.

One of the big topics, and main concerns over the last couple of weeks has been surrounding Pablo Sandoval, who was diagnosed with an inflamed nerve in his throwing elbow and was in jeopardy to start the season on the DL. However, the Giants got some good news on that front Thursday, and it looks like he may be ready for opening day after all. The injury wasn't considered serious 2 weeks ago when Pablo first felt it, but it hadn't gotten a whole lot better until Wednesday when Pablo was able to throw from 75 and 90 feet. I wouldn't be surprised to see him sit out the rest of the games vs. the A's, besides perhaps a pinch-hit appearance, but that's definitely a good thing that all signs are pointing towards a go for Monday. On the other hand, I have to say, I'm a little upset with the comment Pablo made a couple of days ago regarding his pending free agency in two seasons and how he's got these next two years to get into shape. We saw Pablo get into shape over spring in 2011, so it shouldn't take him 2 years to get back down to a reasonable playing weight. Again, with him really, it's tough to complain much when he's hitting .320 with pop, but it's no coincidence that he had his best season when he came into it in shape and determined in 2011.

With just the weekend set left with the A's before things get started for real on Monday, it looks like Chad Gaudin has pretty much shored up the final bullpen spot, but the last two positional roster spots, that utility spot and potential 5ht outfield, is still kind of a mystery. Nick Noonan could be winner by default as he's really the last man standing in the race. He actually didn't have much of a shot coming in but Tony Abreu's injuries and Kensuke Tanaka's inabilities have forced the Giants' hand a bit. As for the outfield, although Francisco Peguero has had the better spring, it appears as though Cole Gillespie will wind up with that spot. After seeing him tear it up in Fresno this month, I'm sure the Giants would like to have Pegeuro playing everyday in Fresno rather than maybe once a week in San Francisco. So, although things can change over the next couple games with Oakland, I'd say Gaudin, Gillespie and Noonan are the three winners for opening day spots. There still could be some surprise cuts made by other teams by Monday, so keep an eye on that.

Also, I couldn't go without mentioning Brandon Belt, who's really been the talk of spring for the Giants, and finished off his Cactus League-tear by hitting his 8th home run of spring on Wednesday. That wraps his incredible Cactus League run at a line of .437/8/19/1.316 OPS to go along with 3 steals and 7 doubles. I spring stats can certainly be deceiving and he could cool way down in April, but one has to think that the confidence gained in last postseason coupled with his scorching spring will have some carry over effect for 2013 (a huge reason I'm expecting big things from him this year as you'll see in our Giants preview Saturday). And of course with the good, comes some bad, as we saw another rough outing from Timmy in his final spring tune-up Thursday night. He couldn't make it out of the fifth inning, giving up 5 runs on 5 hits while striking out 6 in 4 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate was there, but the 0-5 record and an ERA north of 10. Sure, spring is just spring, but that's hardly inspiring considering the season he's coming off of.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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