WASHINGTON – Giants manager Bruce Bochy was tempted to start Joaquin Arias a night after he collected a career-best four hits.
Bochy was tempted to give himself a night off from watching Pablo Sandoval chase pitches at the plate, too.
But Sandoval is at third base Wednesday and Arias is not.
“You know, we’ve got to get Pablo going,” Bochy said of Sandoval, who has one home run since May 22 and a .209 average in 43 games since returning from the DL in late June.
“He’s such a big part of this club. He’s going through one of his toughest skids. We think he’s close. We’ll see tonight.”
Sandoval simply isn’t driving the ball. His last extra-base hit came July 28 – a double against the Cubs’ Travis Wood. That was 14 games (and 50 at-bats) ago.
“He’s gotten out of the zone a few times, but that’s Pablo,” Bochy said. “He feels great. He’s gotten himself in better condition. We think he’s close, and if not, we’ll give him a day in another day or two.”
As I suggested in an online chat earlier today, a few more days off for Sandoval down the stretch might not be the worst idea in the world. The Giants can’t scare Sandoval with a minor league demotion any longer to get him to commit to arriving in better shape next spring. But taking away playing time from a hitter entering his walk year could be one powerful motivational tool.
Perhaps the Giants feel Sandoval will be motivated enough as he builds his free-agency credentials next year. And perhaps they’re satisfied at the effort he’s put in to drop pounds over the last two months. From what I understand, he’s down at least 15 pounds and maybe nearer to 20.
Of course, the key is to begin the season in the best possible condition. The season is too long and grueling to buckle yourself to the exercise bike before and/or after games.
As for Arias, Bochy was reminded of the day when J.T. Snow sat a day after hitting three home runs at Philly. Asked about it, then-manager Felipe Alou said he thought Snow only hit two.
“You just have to hit one here,” Bochy said. “We don’t set the bar that high.”