Position players have filtered into spring training camps everywhere, and in Scottsdale, Ariz., two players garnering much of the early attention are connected in a bizarro-world way.
While Aubrey Huff was among the heroes during the Giants’ 2010 title run, Pablo Sandoval was an afterthought, having eaten his way out of the regular lineup. Huff was rewarded with a two-year, $22 million deal. Sandoval got a public ultimatum from manager Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean, who told the Panda to shape up or prepare to get shipped out (to the minors).
Huff responded by reporting to camp last spring in less than ideal condition and struggling through the type of season that left him on the couch before the Giants rescued him in the first place.
Sandoval responded by reporting to camp in the best shape of his professional life and putting together a season that reminded everyone what a special player he can be.
So this past offseason it was Huff who got the verbal spanking, and Sandoval who got the eye-popping contract; the $17.5 million, three-year deal is the longest Giants deal since the Peter Magowan era.
Now all eyes are on Huff and Sandoval yet again, and while Huff reported looking 2010-fit, Sandoval’s weight has yet again become a bit of an issue.
For Sandoval, shedding however many of last winter’s lost pounds he found this winter makes everything OK. He’s 25, and he surely knows he needs to reward the faith expressed with that multiyear deal.
For Huff, it’s not that easy. He’s 35, and while he does have a recent history of being good every other year (putting him in line to be REALLY good this year), 35 is 35. He’s an average-at-best first baseman competing against a potential Gold Glover in 23-year-old Brandon Belt, and if you saw Huff in the outfield last season, you know that’s not an ideal option.
How much rope does the Huff get this year? Probably just enough with which to hang himself if he struggles this spring and Belt goes off.
DUBIOUS FOR DUBS: After Monta Ellis’ heroics saved them from an embarrassing fall-from-ahead loss at Phoenix on Wednesday, the Warriors went into the NBA All-Star break four games under .500 (13-17) and with a strong hold on the inside track to the No. 12 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Too bad only eight teams make it.
But by all means, coach Mark Jackson, keep running Andris Biedrins and his fragile psyche out there as a starter. Wouldn’t want to break up such a great thing and play an energetic young guy like Ekpe Udoh who, you know, DESERVES to start and finish.
It must take a former NBA point guard to see Biedrins’ standard output of two points, a rebound or two and five fouls in 19 minutes and deem it indispensable.
BETTER HALF: Not to pile onto the A’s, who had an utterly miserable offseason before getting a measure of redemption with the surprise signing of Yoenis Cespedes, but is anyone else concerned that the presumptive favorite to win the Opening Day start — Brandon McCarthy — is better known for having a smokin’ hot wife and the couple’s sharp sense of humor on Twitter?
How’s Roy Oswalt’s wife looking these days, anyway?