Pablo Sandoval is supposed to be in much better shape too. But no, the Kung Fu Panda didn’t work out with Barry Bonds to attain his newfound shape. That was attributable to laying off soda and chips, he says. What he did do with Barry Bonds however was to work on plate discipline.
The weight loss is probably more important to Sandoval getting a chance to play every day, but the work with Bonds could be the key toward him making major contributions. And it will also help sate my curiosity about whether one can actually teach plate discipline or if it’s simply an innate thing borne of intelligence and quick decision making and what not. I mean, there have been very, very few batting eyes better than Barry Bonds’ batting eye in all of baseball history.
If Bonds can impart even a fraction of his ability to Sandoval, it could have some pretty big implications. After all, you often hear about guys saying they’re going to work on their plate discipline in spring training or whatever, but how often do they go to a plate discipline master to do so?
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.