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

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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.”

Video: Dexter Fowler robs Asdrúbal Cabrera of three-run homer

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Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler made a critical catch in the eighth inning of Wednesday afternoon’s series finale against the Nationals. With the Cardinals leading 5-1, the Nationals were threatening with runners on first and second with one out against lefty Andrew Miller. Asdrúbal Cabrera worked a full count before serving a 3-2 outside slider to right field. The ball had home run distance, but Fowler tracked it, leaped at the wall, and robbed Cabrera of a three-run home run.

Carlos Martínez relieved Miller, getting Victor Robles to ground out to end the inning. The Cardinals would go on to win 5-1.

The game had playoff implications on both sides. The win bumped the Cardinals’ hold on first place in the NL Central to 2.5 games while the Nationals’ lead over the Cubs and Brewers for the first NL Wild Card shrinks to just one game.

The Nationals will close out their final road trip of the regular season with three games against the Marlins before hosting the Phillies for five games and the Indians for three. The Cardinals, meanwhile, begin their final road trip of the regular season with four against the Cubs followed by three against the Diamondbacks before closing out the season at home with three games versus the Cubs.