Inbox: Is Sandoval learning the zone?

Inbox: Is Sandoval learning the zone?

Is anyone working with Pablo Sandoval on learning the strike zone? If he can become more disciplined, he would dominate.
-- Chris F., Fresno, Calif.

Remember when Ronald Reagan was president and his advisers would respond to complaints by saying, "Let Reagan be Reagan," believing he ultimately would do more good than harm? Well, "Let Pablo be Pablo" seems to be the Giants' attitude. Manager Bruce Bochy and hitting coach Carney Lansford are well aware that Sandoval swings too freely much of the time. He's also hitting .331 and leads the team in everything except stillness. Curbing Sandoval's enthusiasm might cramp his style, the Giants sense.

Nate Schierholtz is arguably the Giants' third-best hitter right now, behind Sandoval and Freddy Sanchez. He has the greatest potential power of anyone on the team not nicknamed for a black-and-white bear. His glove, arm and legs are consistent with the club credo of pitching and defense. He brings great energy to the field and helps the team win. He is not playing every day. The question asks itself.
-- Brendan B., Berkeley, Calif.

Bochy sometimes fills spots in the lineup on the basis of matchups -- how a position player has fared against a particular pitcher or how he perceives a matchup might unfold based on a hitter's tendencies and a pitcher's strengths. That occasionally costs Schierholtz a start. Bochy's insistence upon keeping his bench players as active as possible also cuts into Schierholtz's playing time, usually when Fred Lewis receives a start. I do find many of Schierholtz's absences puzzling. The Giants never will find out what they truly have in him unless he plays more frequently.

Do you think the Giants would look to bolster their rotation or bullpen with an experienced pitcher? Russ Ortiz came to mind when he was cut, but he has since signed with the Rockies. Are there any serviceable starters available who won't cost an arm and a leg?
-- Eric Y., Foster City, Calif.

After what happened last weekend in Colorado, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Giants obtain relief help. But nothing appears imminent, and it's difficult to determine who might be on the market due to the secrecy of the waiver process. I don't envision the Giants acquiring a starting pitcher unless a relatively affordable one becomes available who's also a clear upgrade over Joe Martinez. The Giants seem to be satisfied with Martinez, so this doesn't appear to be a pressing need.

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With their blazing speed, Eugenio Velez and Lewis should be stealing bases by the dozen. Have the Giants decided that these players are incapable of learning to consistently steal bags? What a waste!
-- Ray T., San Mateo, Calif.

As you know, a lot goes into stealing bases besides speed: reading a pitcher's motion to home plate and his pickoff move, understanding when the right time is to run and developing the fearlessness every good basestealer needs. The Giants have tried to instill these qualities in their players. Velez and Lewis simply don't possess the entire package yet.

I was looking at the probable free agents for next season and noticed that there is a surplus of outfielders, including Matt Holliday (St. Louis) and Jason Bay (Boston). Is there any chance the Giants will go after these proven sluggers?
-- Trevor C., Petaluma, Calif.

They should at least explore the possibilities. Barring such an acquisition, the Giants will enter 2010 needing a big bat as badly as they do now.

Is there any chance the Giants will pick up Noah Lowry's option for 2010? I know business is business, but his loyalty, heart and past record make him a good gamble for what I seem to remember is $6.25 million. He seems to have a lot of class. Whatever the outcome, I wish him well.
-- Warren S., Las Vegas

The controversy that flared in May when Lowry's agent, Damon Lapa, accused the Giants of misdiagnosing the left-hander's arm injury probably ended the relationship between the sides. That said, players and teams have kissed and made up under pricklier circumstances. But if the Giants bring back Lowry, it won't be for $6.25 million. They'd cut a more economical deal.

Why, in your infrequent posts, do you choose the worst questions? You are the worst reporter in Major League Baseball. Bet you don't post this!
-- Richard D., London

You lose.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.