Pablo Sandoval

Aramis Ramirez opts out, so Pablo Sandoval is an All-Star

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Manager Bruce Bochy will get to call on another Giant.

Aramis Ramirez would have been the choice to take Placido Polanco’s spot on the NL All-Star team, but he’s following through with his plans to go home to visit family in the Dominican Republic.  As a result, Pablo Sandoval will go to his first All-Star Game.

There was a groundswell to make Sandoval an All-Star back when he was on his way to hitting .330 with 25 homers in his first full season in 2009, but there was no room on the roster for him then, and Sandoval was such a disappointment in 2010 that the Giants threatened to send him back to the minors to begin this season if he didn’t get into better shape.

Sandoval, though, did drop some weight, and he’s excelled when healthy during a 2011 season interrupted by a broken hamate bone.  He’s hit .305/.345/.505 with eight homers in 190 at-bats, and he carried a 20-game hitting streak into Sunday’s action.

Sandoval will be the lone Giants positions player on the NL roster, but he will have plenty of teammates to hang out with; Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and closer Brian Wilson were all originally picked for the squad last week.

4:45 p.m. EDT: And, apparently, I’m still wrong.  Sandoval is going to the All-Star Game, but he’ll be the replacement for Jose Reyes.  We still don’t know who is taking Polanco’s spot.  Presumably, it will be a shortstop (Stephen Drew?).

Report: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.