Giants manager Bruce Bochy says Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum need to get in better shape


In talking to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News yesterday Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wants to see both Pablo Sandoval and Tim Lincecum get into better physical condition this offseason.

Grouping them together may seem strange given that Sandoval is one of the portliest players in baseball and Lincecum probably weighs about 170 pounds soaking wet (mostly because of the hair), but Bochy feels that a lack of conditioning has contributed to both players disappointing with their performances this season.

Really, the biggest goal is to get them in the best condition they’ve ever been in. In this game, I don’t think players should ever feel they’ve arrived. They should always seek to improve. And not only in how they play, but what kind of shape they’re in.

They are two young players with special gifts and talents, but you still have to work at all parts of the game, and that includes conditioning. Sometimes you learn in your second or third season how important that is. Players realize how hard they have to work to continue the level of performance they want to play at.

There were stories all the winter about Sandoval dieting and working out in an attempt to shed pounds, but the man they call Kung Fu Panda showed up at spring training as hefty as ever. Setting aside whether or not the extra weight hurts his offense, it definitely makes it tough to show good range defensively at third base and Bochy indicated that a full-time shift across the diamond could be in store if he doesn’t slim down.

As for Lincecum, according to Baggarly “the conditioning issue is a little more complicated” because “his unique mechanics rely on a gymnast’s flexibility to generate torque, so bulking up isn’t the answer.” However, he writes that “the coaching staff believes cardiovascular fatigue and a lack of lower-body strength are reasons his fastball loses steam after two or three innings.”

To his credit, Lincecum has apparently taken Bochy’s advice to heart and is not waiting until the offseason to change his routines. “He’s taken responsibility already for putting in more time and effort into his workouts,” Bochy told Baggarly. “He’s been spending more time in the weight room, but that has to carry throughout the offseason, too.”

Spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws

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Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post reports that, according to three congressional officials familiar with current talks, an upcoming spending bill could exempt minor leaguers from federal labor laws. This is an issue we have spent some time covering here. A bill proposed in 2016, H.R. 5580, would have amended language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 which would have made it so minor leaguers wouldn’t be protected under a law that protects hourly workers. There is also an ongoing class action lawsuit over unfair labor prospects.

As DeBonis notes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is among the representatives backing the measure. The provision specifically concerning minor leaguers didn’t appear in any of the draft spending bills, but DeBonis spoke to officials familiar with the negotiations under the condition of anonymity who said it was under serious consideration by top party leaders.

DeBonis got a comment from Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner. He said, “We’re not saying that [minor league pay] shouldn’t go up. We’re just saying that the formula of minimum wage and overtime is so incalculable. I would hate to think that a prospect is told, ‘You got to go home because you’re out of hours, you can’t have any extra batting practice.’ It’s those kinds of things. It’s not like factory work. It’s not like work where you can punch a time clock and management can project how many hours they’re going to have to pay for.”

O’Conner said as much in an interview back in December. It’s an extremely disingenuous deflection. O’Conner also said, “I don’t think that minor league baseball is a career choice for a player.” This is all about creating legislation that allows Minor League Baseball to keep money at the top, which is great if you’re a team owner or shareholder. If they could get away with it, every owner of every business would pay its employees as little as possible, which is why it’s important to have unions and people keeping an eye on legislation like this that attempts to strip laborers of their rights in the dead of night.

Minor league players need to unionize. Or, better yet, the MLBPA should open their doors to include minor leaguers and fight for them just as they would a player who has reached the majors. Minor leaguers should be paid a salary with which they do not have to worry about things like rent, electricity, food, and transportation. They should be provided healthcare and a retirement fund. And if anyone tries to tell you it’s not affordable, MLB eclipsed $10 billion in revenues last year. There’s plenty to go around.

The owners are banking on this legislation passing and labor still coming in excess due to young men holding onto the dream of making the major leagues. According to CNN, “far less than 10 percent of minor league players ever get the chance to make it to the major leagues.” Some of these players have forgone college to work in baseball. They arrive at the park in the morning and leave late at night, putting in far more than your standard eight-hour work day. Since their bodies are their vehicle for success, they have to exercise regularly and vigorously off the field while maintaining a healthy diet. (And teams are still reluctant to invest even the smallest amount of money to ensure their young players eat well.) Minor leaguers make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their dream and now Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying Congress to legalize taking further advantage of them.