Hill: Panda needs to perform to quiet Red Sox media, fans

Rich Hill grew up in the Boston suburbs and last year pitched for the Red Sox, so he has some insight into the razzing that third baseman Pablo Sandoval is getting from the fans and media in Boston for carrying too much weight around his gut.

Sandoval, the former Giant, is listed at 5-foot-11, 255 pounds, and based on the photos from the Red Sox’s workouts over the weekend, the second number is very likely an underestimate.

Hill, likely to be the A’s No. 2 starting pitcher to begin the season, said he thought Sandoval “was a great teammate’’ last year and is distressed to see the way a firestorm has erupted over Sandoval’s weight. It’s not the first time that the man known as Panda has had weight troubles.

“I don’t find it at all amusing,’’ Hill said Monday. “It’s not a matter of what you look like. It’s about how you go out and play, and for the time I was there last year, I thought he did all right.’’

Signed away from San Francisco a year ago by the Red Sox, Sandoval put together a slash line of .245/.292/.366 for Boston, numbers that were 43, 47 and 86 points below his career standards. So, yes, he failed to hit his weight.

Fans wasted no time in turning on him, and that seems to be carrying over to this season.

“Boston is a city of immediate feedback, good or bad,’’ Hill said. “That’s one of the things I like about it. You do well, you hear about it. You don’t, and you hear about that, too. It seems to me he just needs to go out and have the kind of year he’s had in the past and this blows over.

“I guess he’s always had weight issues. He just needs to go out and perform.’’


Freiman finds split-second decision was right one

Nate Freiman was faced with a split-second decision in the sixth inning of Monday’s game.

For a while it haunted him, concerned that he’d made the wrong call, but upon further review, the A’s first baseman is content he made the right call

The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval was up with men on first and third and none out and hit a sharp grounder to Freiman at first. Here’s the question – do you go for the double play and concede the run or do you try and keep the run from scoring?

With the A’s up 2-0 at the time, Freiman decided it was more important to try and keep the run from scoring. So he took a few steps to first base and got the out there without taking his eye off the runner at third, Gregor Blanco, who looked as if he wanted to run but didn’t.

What that meant was that the runner at first base, Marco Scutaro, was now at second as the potential tying run.

A’s starter Dan Straily eventually gave up Blanco’s run on a grounder hit by Buster Posey, but he pitched out of the inning and the A’s went on to a 4-1 win in the first game of the series.

“At the time, I decided to make sure I got at least one out and to see if I could keep the runner from scoring,’’ Freiman said. “It was going to be a tough double play to turn, although the ball got to me quicker than I thought it would at first.

“At the time I wasn’t sure that it was the right play. But with the way in inning played out, Gregor Blanco was going to score, and so we were going to give up one run, regardless. It all goes back to the fact that the most important thing was that we got at least one out for sure on that (Sandoval) grounder.

“The thing that you can’t allow to happen is that you come out of that situation not getting any outs.’’


–Brett Anderson is still wearing his walking cast and is still using crutches to avoid putting too much pressure on the stress fracture in his right foot.

He’s probably got at least two more weeks of that, but no one can say for sure. Bones tend to heal at their own pace. So Anderson is learning to adapt while his A’s teammates do their thing.

“It’s different, sort of like being a fan,’’ he said. “Baseball is still fun to watch, especially the way this pitching staff is going. Yesterday I was able to watch two good baseball teams collide.’’

Just how well have A’s pitchers been doing? Coming into Tuesday’s start by Jarrod Parker, Oakland pitchers have a 2.33 ERA in their last 10 games and the team has won nine of those 10.