The Big Five with … Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens

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SAN FRANCISCO — Hensley ‘Bam Bam’ Meulens was supposed to be the first big thing from Curacao — Andruw Jones before Andruw Jones, if you will. He had power and the nickname of a ‘Flintstones’ character, but the best part of Meulens’ playing career turned out to be three years as a gaijin slugger in Japan in the mid-1990s.

And now in his first year as hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants, Meulens’ hitters have picked the perfect time to explode: 20 runs scored in the first two games of the World Series — after scoring only 19 in winning the NLCS in six games. Meulens takes a swing at The Big Five here:

So 20 runs in the first two game of a World Series doesn’t really surprise you?

“That’s what I said. We have hitters who have been great hitters in their career — .280-.290 career hitters. At some point, I thought they would all get together and put up some runs. We’ve been scoring just enough runs all year. It’s nice to see them breaking loose like this on this stage. I took this job last Nov. 2, and haven’t taken a day off since. It’s definitely gratifying that the hard work is paying off.”

So there was a specific plan of attack against Cliff Lee in Game 1?

“Definitely. The plan was to attack, and attack him early (in the count). Don’t let him get strike one, strike two, because he’s really tough when he gets ahead. We attacked him early and often, and he made just enough mistakes for us to capitalize. We wanted to get some runs on the board against him, make him work and get him out early. We had him over 100 pitches in the fifth inning. He missed with some pitches, and he threw more breaking balls than we thought he would throw.” 

Be aggressive and attack Lee, but also be patient enough to key a six-run eighth inning in Game 2 by drawing back-to-back-to-back walks?

“This is a veteran-filled lineup, smart enough in its approach to capitalize on mistakes. The bullpen for them came in and threw some balls. They couldn’t find the strike zone, we took advantage, and then we got a couple of big hits.”

Edgar Renteria has had a tough season injury-wise, but comes through with the big hits again — a fifth-inning homer and two-run double in the big eighth inning in Game 2. 

“He’s all about business. He’s all about playing in big games. He’s done it before. With Florida, he got the game winning hit (to win 1997 World Series Game 7). He was on a World Series winner in St. Louis, and he did it again with that home run to get us on the board. There was a long time when he was unable to play (due to injury), and then he basically lost his job to Juan (Uribe). But he persevered, and got his chance to play again when (Pedro  Pablo) Sandoval struggled.”

At this point, does anything Juan Uribe accomplishes surprise you?

“Not at all. He’s a guy who wants to be in this situation. That’s when he is at his best. At times, he’ll swing at balls over his head, or in the dirt. But he has the discipline to take pitches sometimes, too.”

Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a contributor to NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll interview a guest during each day of the World Series for HardballTalk.com.

Leonys Martin to be released from hospital

Leonys Martin
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Indians outfielder Leonys Martin will be released from the Cleveland Clinic on Sunday, according to comments from club president Chris Antonetti. Martin was hospitalized with a life-threatening bacterial infection several weeks ago, one that was said to have affected multiple organs and jeopardized Martin’s quality of life, as well as his career. The length of his recovery process is still undefined, Antonetti added, noting that there’s “no precedent for how to return to playing shape,” though it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to work back up to full strength before the season wraps up in September.

It’s been a tumultuous season for Martin, who also battled a left hamstring strain that cost him another four weeks on the disabled list earlier this year. He’s appeared in just six games with the Indians this season, collecting five hits and two home runs over 17 plate appearances. Taking into account his 78-game stint with the Tigers prior to the trade deadline, he slashed a combined .255/.323/.425 with 11 homers and a .747 OPS across 353 PA in 2018.

As the outfielder’s status is still up in the air for the time being, no significant roster changes appear to be in the team’s immediate future. Fellow outfielders Greg Allen and Rajai Davis will continue to split duties in center field during Martin’s absence. The 25-year-old rookie, Allen, has seen the bulk of the starts in center field over the last two weeks and is currently batting .243/.278/.305 with seven extra-base hits and a .583 OPS in his first full season at the major league level.