Like it ever was off.
This, of course, is an old drill. And if anyone thinks it won’t be an ongoing drill as long as Sandoval is playing — anywhere — they’re either addicted to optimism or just not paying very close attention.
Pablo gets fat. Pablo struggles. Pablo thins down. Pablo rakes and picks it like a champ at third base. Pablo gets fat again. Pablo gets to an important contract year. Pablo thins way down. Pablo looks like a Hall of Famer. Pablo gets paid. Pablo gets fat.
That about sums it all up, right? He doesn’t get it, but he does. He knows exactly what he’s doing, and so should everyone else. He’s the king of maddeningly selective discipline, in every way. So let’s move on to stories to which we don’t already know the various twists and turns in advance.
Being named the Opening Day starter is a big damn deal, and Madison Bumgarner absolutely deserves the nod for the Giants this year. Like most managers, Bruce Bochy uses the honor to reward the starter who best served him the previous year.
How any rotation sets up after Opening Day, though, is virtually meaningless. By the second month of the season, days off and injuries and other variables inevitably eliminate the pattern of No. 1s facing No. 1s, No. 2s facing No. 2s, etc.
So good for Bumgarner, and good for Jarrod Parker, who should get the Opening Day nod from A’s skipper Bob Melvin. Beyond that, stick Sonny Gray wherever you want, Bob. If he’s healthy, he’s a No. 1 no matter when he throws.
The A’s have a streak of 12 consecutive winning months, a remarkable show of consistency. It wasn’t too long ago that consistency was the last thing you expected out of Oakland. Their great teams of the early aughts were wildly, entertainingly erratic, stumbling out of the gate for a couple of months and then catching fire in the second half.
The difference these days? Having a steady hand like Melvin helps, but players win games, and the players winning all those games for Oakland represent the brass’ emphasis on depth and versatility.
It’s called injury insurance, and A’s general manager Billy Beane several years ago realized that without it, his low-budget team would always come up short, no matter how brilliantly constructed the core might be.
Beane has always been able to build a remarkable core, but now he augments it with a whole mess of glue guys who bring the heart, hustle and selflessness every team needs to survive the dangers that every long season brings.
The rest of the baseball world, as usual, lags behind Beane’s thinking. Most teams that lose one of the big boys are in big trouble. Beane doesn’t have that many big boys to begin with, but if, say, Yoenis Cespedes struggles or goes down, it’s a collective “Oh well” in the A’s clubhouse, where one gamer or another is always willing and able to step in and step up.
Nice to see some buzz about the young arms in Giants camp. They’re going to need them. Ryan Vogelsong’s amazing journey has been a treat to follow, but he’s a huge question mark heading into the season.
So is Tim Lincecum, but for now, everyone seems to have that familiar “he’ll be fine” feeling.
Even Matt Cain, whose periodic struggles never seem to catch the fancy of the media at large, bears scrutiny. Meanwhile, Tim Hudson is 38. That alone merits at least a modicum of unease.
And the bullpen? Not exactly the cadre of power arms they’ll be trotting out in Oakland come the sixth inning.
Rookie pitchers will have an impact on the 2014 Giants.
Mychael Urban, a longtime Bay Area-based sportswriter and broadcaster, is the host of “Inside the Bigs,” which airs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon on KGMZ “The Game” (95.7 FM).