By Greg Beacham, Associated Press
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Although Pablo Sandoval had pretty much run out of steam by the time he got to third, Kung Fu Panda kept on chugging.
The San Francisco Giants’ hefty slugger scored the go-ahead run and maybe burned off a few ounces of flab along the way, getting the defending champions’ spring off to a rollicking start.
Ryan Vogelsong pitched two scoreless innings, Sandoval lumbered home on Jackson Williams‘ double, and the Giants opened Cactus League play with a 4-1 victory over a Los Angeles Angels split squad Saturday.
The last time Sandoval was in a major league game, he wrapped up the World Series MVP award in San Francisco’s sweep of Detroit last October. Although he played in Venezuela’s professional league this winter and will play in the World Baseball Classic soon, he acknowledges he’s a few weeks and several pounds away from recapturing his postseason form.
“It looked like home plate was running away from me,” Sandoval said.
At least he gave ample entertainment to his laughing teammates and their cheering fans in the fourth inning with his exhausted sprint to home plate. He also contributed an RBI single moments beforehand.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to get him ready,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s hard to carry a piano on your back, and then he stopped and played a song between third and home.”
Bochy had Sandoval running on the pitch, a decidedly unlikely strategy in games that count. Even with that head start, Sandoval barely made it 270 feet in time on Williams’ double to left at Scottsdale Stadium.
“I was just hoping he didn’t fall,” said Angel Pagan, who scored on Sandoval’s single. “It was a long run for him. I’m just glad he made it.”
Vogelsong prepared for his stint with the U.S. squad at the WBC with two innings of two-hit ball, getting the early work he craved.
“I’m trying to treat it like it’s a regular season game, especially with the WBC coming up,” Vogelsong said. “I’m trying to get my mind to work the way I want it to. It’s not just about the physical aspect. It’s concentration and getting my mind to work with men on base.”
Chad Gaudin got the win for San Francisco despite giving up the Angels’ only run.
Brad Mills tossed two perfect innings while starting for the Angels, who sent almost no contenders for the major league roster while the rest of the team played at home in Tempe. Matt Young went 3 for 3, and John Hester drove in Los Angeles’ run.
Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia was irritated to be forced to start the spring with a split-squad game, calling it “absurd.”
“We didn’t walk anybody today, not even the guys who came up from the minor league camp,” said bench coach Rob Picciolo, who filled in for Scioscia. “That was impressive. We made all the routine plays. It was a good day for us. … (Mills) threw strikes and didn’t walk anybody. He threw all of his pitches and worked ahead in the count. He did everything we wanted to see.”
NOTES: Kole Calhoun and Thomas Field stole bases for the Angels, and Luis Jimenez‘s double was their only extra-base hit. .. Giants C Hector Sanchez will get a few more days off to rest a sore right shoulder. Bochy said he could probably play but the team is being cautious. He’ll make throws to second on Monday. … IF Ricky Oropesa drove in a run in his first game in a big league camp.