Giants considering options in Melky's absence
Club has in-house candidates, while trade speculation picks up
SAN FRANCISCO -- As reporters asked them questions about Melky Cabrera, the Giants admitted that they'd have to ask more of themselves.Players bravely insisted Wednesday that they could remain contenders in the National League West without Cabrera, their All-Star left fielder who received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for testing positive for testosterone, a banned performance-enhancing substance. But, barring the dramatic acquisition of an offensively capable outfielder slipping through waivers, the Giants will have to compensate for Cabrera's absence by upgrading their individual and collective performance. "It's [a matter of] how you handle it and how you keep your focus," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's what we need to do. This club's worked hard to be in this position. We're not going to stop trying to win ballgames." Cabrera met briefly at AT&T Park on Wednesday morning with Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean before leaving and did not speak to teammates. His belongings remained in his dressing stall. Bochy then informed the team of Cabrera's suspension about a hour before their game against Washington.
A couple of Giants said essentially the same thing in a different way by suggesting that they'll have to harden their attitude."I think we have to try to approach the rest of the year with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder, and give everything we've got for the last  games," catcher Buster Posey said. "Basically it's going to come down to the fact that some guys are going to have to step up," right-hander Clay Hensley said. "[Cabrera is] obviously a big guy who we're going to miss in the lineup, and his presence in the locker room. I think it's going to motivate some of us guys and get us ready to play baseball." Some players compared Cabrera's departure to a player being placed on the disabled list. "We didn't have Pablo [Sandoval] for a number of weeks, and we've still been in first place for a lot of the season," shortstop Brandon Crawford said. "Obviously it's a huge blow, but it would be to any team, and I think we have guys who can come in and do well." For now, the switch-hitting Sandoval, who returned from the DL on Monday, will inherit Cabrera's No. 3 spot in the batting order. Sandoval went 2-for-4 in Wednesday's 6-4 loss to Washington, recording his first multiple-hit game since being reinstated. Gregor Blanco likely will receive most of the playing time in left field. Blanco thrived earlier in the season as San Francisco's leadoff hitter. But Hunter Pence's arrival from Philadelphia at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline sent Blanco to the bench. Sporadic activity hasn't helped Blanco, whose sixth-inning single Wednesday snapped an 0-for-21 skid. "We have a pretty good player here who did a lot to get this club going," Bochy said, referring to Blanco. "I know he's had his struggles the last three weeks or whatever. He's lost some playing time with Pence getting here, but he's a catalyst-type player. ... Hopefully Gregor takes advantage of the playing time he's going to get." The Giants are expected to consider other alternatives. They optioned right-hander Dan Otero to Triple-A Fresno after Wednesday's game, creating a second roster vacancy besides the one created by Cabrera's suspension. That could signal an influx of fresh personnel, not just more in a series of callups. San Francisco is believed to be interested in Chicago Cubs slugger Alfonso Soriano. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported Wednesday that Soriano, 36, has cleared waivers, but any deal would be pending the outfielder's approval because he has a no-trade clause. Soriano is still owed about $45 million through the end of the 2014 season. Speculation also has started swirling around Minnesota's Josh Willingham, Toronto's Colby Rasmus and the New York Mets' Jason Bay. The Giants recently signed veteran outfielder Xavier Nady to a Minor League contract, but he's hitting only .138 (4-for-29) at Fresno.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.