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Giants 2011: Spring Update

(originally written 3/10/11)

It’s great to have baseball back. More to the point, it’s great to have Giants baseball back. 
Isn’t it?


After a one-season break, the real Pablo Sandoval seems to be back—most of him, anyway. No longer taking his team name literally (he’s shed about 40 pounds), the Panda’s offensive performance this spring has done nothing but inspire confidence. It was no shock that he fell from grace last year; Sandoval is not the first young player to get caught up in his own hype, and to forgo good work habits once achieving fast and easy success. 
Now that his divorce is behind him, he should have a clearer head atop his slimmer body this year—a potential nightmare for opposing pitchers.

Travis Ishikawa has spent this spring in limbo; his entire future in SF depended on how strong Brandon Belt came on. Ishikawa has not played too well; he K’d in three of his first five AB, put up two hits against the Brewers, and K’d three more times against Seattle. But it appears his job as reserve 1B/PH is safe—Belt has shown a little more AAA seasoning is needed. He’s hitless in his last three games, although he’s solved Milwaukee pitching (5-for-9;  2-for-19 against everyone else). Promise—no one is down on “The Kid”. He’ll be back. Remember, none other than Will Clark touted Belt as being better than he was, and that’s all I need to hear.

Pat Burrell, cold at the outset, is 4-for-his-last-4, including a very impressive 2-run oppo homer against Texas. A productive Pat Burrell is vital to this club, in case you weren’t watching in 2010.

Barry Zito had one bad start, as all major leaguers do, and the Chronicle basically had him packing his bags that night for parts unknown. He’s since thrown two decent games in a row and suddenly, things get quiet. They should stay that way—in case you haven’t heard, Zito’s dad is ill. If there were ever a time to cut the guy slack, this is it. There are more important things in life than locating an off-speed pitch. Jeff Suppan continues to hold steady in his fight for a spot. He surrendered back-to-back home runs in the 9th inning of the 3/9 win against the White Sox, but had not been touched all spring (8 IP) before that.


Brian Wilson finally debuted on 3/6, his cranky back healed (we do know he’s been spending time with the troubled actor Charlie Sheen; if he was hurt carrying Sheen into his home in a stupor, we don’t know.) Matt Cain, battling a sore elbow, is structurally sound and due to return to the mound soon. (WHEW). Mark DeRosa is showing NO ill effects from his surgically-repaired wrist; he’s been stinging the ball. Watching him against Texas on CSN—it was clear this edition of DeRosa was never available to the 2010 Giants. Between he and the resurgent Panda, the 2011 team seems to have improved its infield without having to spend a single extra cent.


He should have never touched that stuff, and now it’s going to cost him a year in jail. 
Cainan Schierholtz, that is. 
Nate’s little bro, as you may recall, liquored up and went on a joyride in Danville, CA last August. He took out a biker and a pedestrian, then hit two signs and two cars. It took being trapped by another driver to end the carnage. 

Reminder: For the dozen or so fans who are still interested, Barry Bonds’ trial begins Monday 3/21. Apparently, venerable clubhouse attendant Mike Murphy will be called to the stand for testimony regarding Bonds’ increasing hat and shoe sizes over the years. I can barely contain my excite...m…zzzz.


Spring Training TV: NBC Bay Area (Channel 3) will air Giants/Padres at 6:05 Friday, 3/11. MLB Network will tape-delay air the weekend day games against the Dodgers and Rangers.
The regular season begins Friday 3/31 at Dodger Stadium; Game 3 of that series will be nationally televised on ESPN—with Jon Miller out of the ESPN booth and in the KNBR booth where he belongs! The home opener is Friday 4/8 vs. St. Louis, a 1:35 start. 

SF has 12 interleague games in 2011—three apiece at Oakland and Detroit, three apiece hosting Cleveland and Minnesota. They will exclusively face the N.L. West in September, but do not face the rival Phillies until July 26-28 (in Philly.)

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