Barry Zito

Giants lose, Brett Pill optioned, Pablo Sandoval returns on Saturday

Bruce Bochy took a little longer than usual to enter the media room for his customary postgame press conference, and there was a reason. Brett Pill was optioned to Fresno, as Pablo Sandoval will return to the San Francisco Giants and play third base on Saturday afternoon.

It wasn’t a shocking move, given that Sandoval hit two home runs tonight in Fresno and the Giants — who have gone 14 straight games without a home run at AT&T Park — could only muster 5 singles and no runs tonight against the Texas Rangers in a 5-0 loss.

Without Pill (who went 0-for-3 tonight against Matt Harrison, who went the distance), who plays first base against lefties? After Bochy’s press conference started, here’s what he said:

“It could be a left-handed bat out there. Could be Belt. We always have the option, Pablo could play first, Buster could go to first, Sanchez. It really depends, I could probably answer it better, you know, who’s pitching, which way we want to go, whether we want to give Crawford a break, who’s going to need some rest. Arias I think could use a little break too.”

Hard to be surprised that Pill was the one who was sent down, since he had one remaining option and went 4-for-28 with no extra-base hits after hitting his third HR on May 13.

After hearing the news everyone went to the clubhouse. The remaining players seemed to be surprised, but then again Pill wasn’t exactly running around in there, spreading the news at the top of his lungs. First, Barry Zito was told during his postgame interview. “Really? That’s great — wow. That’s huge. Pablo is our spark plug,” Zito said.

“A lot of guys picked up slack. That’s kind of been our story so far this year is guys picking up slack in the bullpen, guys picking up slack in the offense, in the lineup, for the injuries that we’ve sustained,” said Zito of the team’s play during Sandoval’s absence. “Having Pablo in there is just going to make it that much better.”

“I think it’s great, having Pablo back,” Gregor Blanco said. “We’ve been playing awesome without him but it’s going to be better if we have him.”

Blanco had this to say when asked what Sandoval brings to the team:

“A lot of energy, a lot of happiness. He’s really wild. Everybody knows Pablo. He’s a little crazy, but that’s great. We need guys like him on the team that bring energy to the team and contribute. He’s a leader on this team and he’s going to be great to have here again.”

One last video before I head home — here’s Zito’s explanation for his baserunning gaffe in the 3rd inning, when he overran second base on Gregor Blanco’s infield single.

“Just had a little too much momentum. It wasn’t my instinct to slide, so I got to be more heads up there. That was definitely a terrible situation for me, taking our team out of a possible inning. Could’ve done some damage on Harrison.”

The thing is, Zito didn’t pitch all that badly. He gave up the leadoff homer to Kinsler and Josh Hamilton took him deep on a curveball that started out a little high, but he got out of a jam in the second and never gave up more than one run per inning. There were two problems with that: he gave up one run in four different innings, and the Giants needed the same effort Zito gave in his last start when he pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Then again, the Cubs aren’t the Rangers. We’ll see if Sandoval’s return reverses the Giants’ fortunes tomorrow with Ryan Vogelsong on the mound.

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