Last year I closely followed Camp Panda, Pablo Sandoval’s allegedly intense workout regimen that was intended to get the portly young superstar in shape. That didn’t happen. Sandoval reported to spring training in more or less the same shape he had been in in 2009 and got larger as the season progressed, ultimately losing his starting job. Which worked out fine for the Giants, of course, because with him on the defacto DL (15 days; gravy), Juan Uribe moved to third, Edgar Renteria returned to shortstop and they carried the team to the title.
And while yesterday’s signing of Miguel Tejada was occasioned by reports that Sandoval will be the Giants starting third baseman, you can bet that Bruce Bochy is more than willing to slide Tejada over to third and find a cheap glove man for short in the event that Sandoval, once again, fails to do the one thing completely within his control: report for duty in shape to play baseball.
You can bet that Sandoval’s agent is well-aware that Miguel Tejada can play third base. Because last night, soon after the news broke, he or someone close to him told Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News that Sandoval has lost ten pounds so far this offseason.
I’m off the Camp Panda beat this winter because last year it was a dud. As such, I will merely pass along reports of Sandoval’s weight loss rather than dwell on them. Good for him if he’s lost the weight. Forgive me, however, if I don’t get excited about it until a relatively thin version of the man shows up for camp in Arizona in February.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.