Spring Training Stuff

There’s finally baseball news to talk about!  OK, there’s not a ton, but there’s something!  And baseball is finally making its way back on KNBR.  They had highlights from FanFest all day Monday.  And Marty Lurie was on the other night taking baseball comments and questions.  I’m so tired of all the football and basketball.

A few minor league acquisitions to mention:  Tony Abreu was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals.  Will be watching him along with several other guys during Spring Training to see who emerges as a new star (remember Gregor Blanco and Hector Sanchez last season and Ryan Vogelsong two years ago??).  Also World Series ring owner Ramon Ramirez was signed to a minor league contract.  He’ll be fighting for the last spot in the bullpen along with several others.  It’s so interesting that both guys who were traded for Angel Pagan last season (Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez) have come back to the Giants and are now on the team with him.  Apparently Angel and Andres are good buddies as well.

Talks fell apart with potential closer Brandon Lyon of the Toronto Blue Jays.  Apparently Lyon wanted to have his role as closer more defined than it would have been on the Giants, who still plan to follow the “closer by committee” plan this season.  With Brian Wilson nowhere on their radar, it looks like Sergio Romo will get the majority of the closing work this season.  Hope his small frame is up to the task.  He’s sure got the drive for the job.  Speaking of Sergio, he was given a 2-year, $9 million deal recently.  He’ll make $3.5 million in 2013 and $5.5 million in 2014.  He also can get an additional $200K this year in performance bonuses and can make up to $1 million more next season based on how much he pitches this season.  So he’ll be making at least twice what he did last season.  Sweet deal.  It’s just incredible how much these boys make.  Spend that wisely, Kid.  And keep your cool in airports, please.  Fortunately, he won’t be facing charges for his outburst at a Las Vegas airport on New Year’s Day.  Love this guy (especially after seeing him at FanFest), but it just goes to show you – we’re all just human (even though some of us are significantly more wealthy humans than others!).

The two most popular topics I hear discussed during Spring Training are Pablo’s weight and Timmy’s performance (and his hair – crazy that it makes the news so much).  Pablo put on a few over the off season and has been told to lose it.  I know weight maintenance can really be a struggle, but most people don’t have a baseball contract at stake over it.  I’m sure he’ll get to where they want him.  Then I started thinking about last season.  He was holding onto a few extra pounds last season as well, but look how well he performed.  How important is it for a guy to be svelte when they perform fine with the extra weight?  Look at Prince Fielder.  Any thoughts on this?  Maybe Pablo should just be left alone.  Hector Sanchez’s weight has been discussed as well, and he’s been told to shed some pounds in the preseason.  I would guess this would be much easier to do with all the trainers around and being under the watchful eye of the staff.  I feel for both of them.

Then there were Timmy’s struggles last season.  How will he come out this time?  KNBR even had a blitz question on Facebook asking if he performed better as a starter or a closer.  Come on!  Let the guy try to work things out.  He did load on some weight (maybe he talked to Pablo about that) and I’m sure that will make some difference.  There were times when I thought he would blow off the mound last season (he even did fall off a couple of times).  Andrew Baggarly mentioned that while watching him in Arizona he looks like he gets out over his front leg better.  That means nothing to me, but it sounds like something positive.  I really hope he can work things out.  The more I learn about baseball, the more I see that pitchers especially have to keep adjusting their game, especially as they get older and lose some of their fastball speed.  We’ll have to see how effective Timmy is at doing this.  I’ve got faith in you, Kid!

Another Timmy topic being discussed is if he will be paired up with Buster more this season.  He pitched almost every game of the regular season last year to Hector Sanchez.  Andrew Baggarly brought up a possible explanation for this that I hadn’t heard to date, even though this was discussed ad nauseam in the media last year.  He commented, “Lincecum connects best with a catcher who can pump him up on the mound and build his confidence, much like Bengie Molina used to do. Posey’s motivational speeches are more likely to be tough love than rah-rah rhetoric. And while Posey studies scouting reports and believes in attacking a hitter’s weaknesses, Lincecum is more like a jazz improvisationalist – going with the pitches that are working on a given day and that he has the most confidence to throw.”  Very interesting take on it, Andrew.  Bochy mentioned that he will still be putting Buster at first to give him a rest once in a while, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Timmy continues to pitch to Hector.  And really, who cares??  All that matters is the outcome, and the media drama can get to be a bit much.

Bruce Bochy’s son, Brett, is in Arizona with the Giants this spring as a non-roster invitee.  That must be amazing and weird at the same time.  Such an amazing chance for the young kid, but your manager is your father!  Bet he’s loving it, though.  And talk around the guys is that he’s not there just because his dad is running the show.  His performance in the minors has earned him his own ticket.  Plus I’m sure the fact that there will be so many pitchers leaving to play in the World Baseball Classic didn’t hurt his chances.  There will be a lot of kids getting a chance in order to fill in for guys leaving, both on the pitching staff and in the field.  Good luck to you, Brett.  Hope you enjoy every minute of it.  I even caught the guy spitting during a story on him the other day!  Just can’t get away from it!

Everyone was in Spring Training camp as of last Friday, and their first game is this Saturday.  I hope I can find it somewhere on TV.  I remember catching a few televised preseason games last season.  I was just introduced to The Twitter, and it’s been fun to read what the guys are doing while they’re waiting for the season to begin.  Even tweeted to George Kontos wishing him a great season, and he responded!  Maybe I can use The Twitter as a means to get them all to stop spitting!  Hmmmm…  Until next time, GO GIANTS!

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