03/02/2013 6:41 PM ET
After slow start, Tanaka finding stroke
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It seems Japanese infielder Kensuke Tanaka is starting to get the hang of Spring Training.
After going hitless in his first 10 Cactus League at-bats, Tanaka has recorded a hit in each of his last three games, including a 2-for-5 day Saturday in the Giants' 9-7 split-squad win over the Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium.
Tanaka had a first-inning double down the left-field line and also drove in a run in the four-run fourth on an infield groundout.
"He looks like his confidence is growing, getting a little acclimated," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's thrown out some pretty good at-bats."
Tanaka, who signed a Minor League deal in January, is competing for the club's second utility role behind Joaquin Arias. With his offensive game coming around, Tanaka also flashed impressive leather Saturday, getting the game's first out with a nice backhand play up the middle.
"He's a gifted defender at second," Bochy said.
Sandoval homers before leaving Giants for Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval trotted off to the World Baseball Classic in style.
The Giants third baseman launched a solo home run Saturday at Scottsdale Stadium in his final at-bat before leaving camp to join Team Venezuela in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
It was the first Cactus League homer for Sandoval, who is hitting .500 (7-for-14) with two doubles and three RBIs in his first six spring games.
Sandoval is hopeful his production continues into the Classic. Team Venezuela is in Pool C, which is stacked with talented teams -- the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Spain. Even though Sandoval readily admitted his is probably the toughest pool in the tournament, he's eager to play for his country.
"One of the things when I went to play winter ball was try to get ready for the [World Baseball Classic],' Sandoval said. "I wanted to be ready to show my country that I'm ready for it 100 percent."
With such a stacked pool, Sandoval and Team Venezuela can't look too far ahead. But the third baseman said he has thought of the possibility of playing in the championship round at AT&T Park.
"It's going to be fun," Sandoval said. "A lot of stuff happened for me on that field, the [World Series] championship and [maybe] playing in the finals for the [World Baseball Classic]."
• Bochy was impressed with starter Yusmeiro Petit, who tossed three innings of one-hit ball while getting the start in place of Tim Lincecum (blister) on Saturday.
"He did a nice job last year at [Triple-A] Fresno. That's why we brought him up, to give us some help," Bochy said. "He's got experience and he knows what he's doing, hits his spots, he can handle the bat. He can do little things to help you."
• It was a rough day for lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, who walked the bases loaded and then allowed two straight hits. His final line: one-third of an inning pitched, two hits, three runs, three walks and one strikeout.
"He started rushing," Bochy said. "He looked good the first hitter, but he just got out of sync and got a little quick out there."
• Joe Panik, San Francisco's first-round selection in the 2011 Draft, made his Cactus League debut in Surprise, Ariz., against the Royals as a defensive replacement at second base in the sixth inning. He had been dealing with a right hamstring injury.
• In other other recent Draft pick news, 2010 first rounder Gary Brown hit his first Cactus League homer Saturday.
• First baseman Brandon Belt continued his hot hitting in Surprise, going 4-for-5 with a homer. He now has nine hits in his last 12 at-bats.
• Backup catcher Hector Sanchez hit his first triple since 2011 in the first inning in Surprise. Sanchez -- who certainly isn't known for his speed -- has six career Minor League triples, three of which came in 2008 -- a season he also stole four bases.
• Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens and his Dutch squad won its World Baseball Classic opener Saturday against favored South Korea, 5-0. The Kingdom of the Netherlands plays Chinese Taipei on Sunday.