CHICAGO -- Manager Bruce Bochy took steps to stimulate the Giants' somnolent offense before Thursday's series finale against the Chicago Cubs, calling a hitters meeting and inserting Mike Fontenot for Pablo Sandoval at third base.Given San Francisco's .215 September batting average, including a .183 figure (11-for-60) in the series' first two games, Bochy believed the Giants needed some quick reminders about proper plate approach. Sandoval entered the game 4-for-9 in his career against Cubs starter Ryan Dempster. But his overall 3-for-27 skid, which lowered his batting average from .271 to .263, necessitated a benching in Bochy's mind. Sandoval's inability to stay balanced as he swings has long been identified. But though he has addressed this flaw daily in batting practice, he still rushes his swing during game action. "We still believe in the guy," Bochy said of Sandoval, who hit .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBIs last season. "He's been his own worst enemy. He gets himself out. He knows it."
Giants' Torres takes BP with eye on Rox series
CHICAGO -- Taking "live" batting practice for the first time since undergoing his Sept. 12 appendectomy, Andres Torres swung carefully but painlessly Thursday at Wrigley Field.Torres, as well as Giants manager Bruce Bochy, has expressed hopes of returning to center field during this weekend's series at Colorado. His participation in BP represented a step toward meeting that goal. The switch-hitting Torres batted exclusively left-handed, because swinging right-handed still nags him. He initially refrained from swinging with full force, though he homered in each of his final two cuts in his first full BP round. Torres began to take part in a second round before quitting for the afternoon. "He was [swinging] a little gingerly early, but he's looking really good," Bochy said. "I feel a lot better," Torres said. "I just need more swings." The Giants have tried four leadoff hitters since Torres was sidelined: Cody Ross, Eugenio Velez, Edgar Renteria and Mike Fontenot.
Lincecum poised for critical opener at Coors
CHICAGO -- Yes, the occasion is a must-win ballgame.Yes, the scene is Denver's Coors Field, where hitters typically thrive and pitchers often suffer. But Tim Lincecum insisted that neither of those factors will influence him when he makes his scheduled start in Friday's opener of a critical three-game series against the Colorado Rockies. "I'm trying to keep my emotions together," Lincecum said. "It's about keeping your composure, no matter what happens." Lincecum has indeed maintained his cool, rebounding from a dreadful August (0-5, 7.82 ERA) to record a 3-1 mark with a 2.36 ERA in his last four outings. Lincecum has flashed his Cy Young Award-winning form in this September span, striking out 32 while walking four in 26 2/3 innings. Now he must perform at Coors, where the mile-high altitude can alter pitchers' deliveries by affecting their intended movement. Lincecum, who's 2-2 with a 4.39 ERA in seven career starts there, couldn't care less about the park's potential negative effects on him. "You have to trust that your stuff is going to do what it does naturally and just work off that," Lincecum said. "If you start questioning, 'Is my ball going to break this way?', you start losing track of the purpose of the pitch."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.