Panda attacks conditioning program like a jelly donut

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pablo-sandoval-091111-915pm.jpgGood news for San Francisco fans: “Operation Panda” is underway, and if things continue at this pace, the Giants are going to be the biggest winners in the end.

Joan Ryan of the MLB.com blog Inside the Giants Clubhouse reports that budding star Pablo Sandoval has already dropped 10 pounds as he attacks his offseason conditioning program like a jelly donut, even though the season is still nearly five months away.

Head trainer Dave Groeschner said of the one-man camp: “We’ve never had a player do anything like this – ever.”

“There are no guys who show up in November to get ready for the season,” Groeschner says. “But this is something Pablo wanted to do. He knows how important it is for him and for the team that he has the endurance to play every game. And what he’s doing is not easy. It’s an entire life-style change.”

For the first time in his life, Sandoval is lifting weights. He’s eating vegetables. He is meeting every Wednesday while he’s in Scottsdale with a nutrition professor from Arizona State University, who is teaching him about healthy food choices and portion control. He and his brother, who Sandoval brought with him for motivation and support, are eating catered meals – delivered to the Giants complex every morning in a cooler — of low-cal entrees like broiled chicken or salmon, and lots of salads, veggies and fruits.

First of all, I love the term “portion control.” Don’t eat three chickens, Pablo, when one will fill you up just fine.

Secondly, the sloppy, overweight version of Sandoval is already a freak of nature, putting up a .333/.381/.543 line in his first full season while smashing 25 home runs and driving in 90 runs. All of this despite a portly physique (listed at 5-11, 245) and a Guerrero-esque penchant for swinging at anything within reach.

But now the Panda is getting serious. He’s replacing cheeseburgers with carrots, fat with muscle. Be afraid NL West. Be very afraid.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Report: Jonny Gomes has retired

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 28:  Jonny Gomes of the Kansas City Royals looks on before Game Two of the 2015 World Series between the Royals and the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium on October 28, 2015 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
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SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo hears from a source that former major leaguer Jonny Gomes has decided to retire from baseball. The 35-year-old spent the 2016 season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Japan Pacific League, but he struggled at the plate, batting .169/.280/.246 in 75 plate appearances. Gomes left the Eagles by mutual consent back on May 11.

Gomes won a championship with the Red Sox in 2013 and the Royals last year. He ends a 13-year major league career having hit .242/333/.436 with 162 home runs in 4,009 trips to the plate.

Gomes was known as a clubhouse leader during his playing career, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up coaching or managing in some capacity in the future.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14:  Marcell Ozuna #13 of the Miami Marlins celebrates a triple in the second inning against the Washington Nationals  at Nationals Park on May 14, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
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Craig previewed this afternoon’s action. We have eight more games left in the evening, though.

The pitching match-ups aren’t at all exciting, sadly, but there are a few streaks to pay attention to tonight. Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is on a 28-game hitting streak, tying him with Wade Boggs for eighth-most in Red Sox history. Teammate Xander Bogaerts is on a 17-game hitting streak as well.

Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna has reached base in 31 consecutive games. And to think that owner Jeffrey Loria would have traded him during the offseason if not for manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Barry Bonds speaking up in favor of keeping Ozuna.

The match-ups for Wednesday evening…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright), 7:10 PM EDT

Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra) @ Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Zach Neal) @ Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma), 10:10 PM EDT

Video: Minor League Manager goes on epic rant

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Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik got his money’s worth last night. He was ejected after arguing an automatic double play on an enforcement of the slide rule, and he didn’t go gently into that goodnight.

Rather, he threw things, kicked things, threw things and then subsequently kicked those same things, gave overly-demonstrative slides and safe signs and basically went all Earl Weaver/Lou Piniella on everyone.

Double-A baseball is the best minor league because you tend to see more prospects there than you do at Triple-A. But it’s also the best because, when you’re a manager who is not quite a heartbeat away from getting your shot at the big leagues, you’re a little less uptight about things. Or at least Mikulik was. Or maybe he was more uptight. I don’t know. He just went with it, and going with it has its charms.

 

(h/t Big League Stew)

A must-read oral history of the 1998 home run chase

7 Jul 1998:   American Leaguer player Mark McGwire #25 of the St Louis Cardinals and Sammy Sosa #21 of  the Chicago Cubs answer questions during  the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver,  Colorado.The American  League defeated the
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It’s hard to believe that it’s been 18 years since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the nation with their epic chase of Roger Maris’ home run record. But it has been, and after years of reaction, counter-reaction and, of course, baseball’s reckoning with the performance-enhancing drugs which helped fuel the chase, it’s probably finally time to do our best to contextualize it historically.

Today one of my favorite news outlets does that with an oral history. All of the key figures weigh-in on it, from McGwire and Sosa to Bud Selig to Tony La Russa. Randy Johnson makes an appearance as well, reminding us that it wasn’t just the sluggers who had an amazing year in 1998. Indeed, his story, including his being traded to Houston and going on an amazing second-half run, has almost been lost to history.

This is bookmark material, my friends. For savoring later if you can’t read it now. And for revisiting at another time given the depths to the drama which justifies multiple readings. I’ll just warn you that there is some adult language in the story, but that’s to be expected given the passion the 1998 baseball season inspired.

Go check it out.