UPDATE: Pablo Sandoval not yet confirmed to play in Venezuelan Winter League

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UPDATE: Apparently Sandoval isn’t a done deal to play in the Venezuelan Winter League. At least not yet.

Via Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Sandoval tweeted following Bochy’s comments this afternoon, calling them “rumors” while saying that he won’t make up his mind until early December. Odd, but there you go.

(Thanks to Giants Nirvana for the link)

8:20 PM: Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed this afternoon that Pablo Sandoval has been granted permission to play 10 games in the Venezuelan Winter League next month, reports Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. He’ll leave for his home country on December 10.

That he’ll participate is another good sign for the state of his strained left shoulder, which was an issue for him during the second half of the season. Sandoval took some swings in the cage from the right side of the plate during the recent “All-Star Series” in Taiwan and the Giants are confident he should be 100 percent by spring training.

The most pressing matter for Sandoval this offseason is, once again, his conditioning. While he appeared to gain most of the weight he lost last winter, he told Bochy in Taiwan that he hasn’t packed on any additional pounds since the end of the regular season and that he plans to report to spring training even lighter than he did last year.

“I respect and trust that Pablo will come in the same shape he did last year,” Bochy said.

Sandoval, 25, batted .315/.357/.552 with 23 home runs, 70 RBI and a .909 OPS over 466 plate appearances this season.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.