SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The trash talk started early in camp, when Pablo Sandoval walked up to Ryan Vogelsong, took a huge swing with an imaginary bat and pretended to watch a baseball soar deep into the distance.
Sandoval was imitating what he would do if his Venezuelan team faced Vogelsong and Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, which takes place next month. For his part, Vogelsong has joked that he might just plunk Sandoval and take the bat out of his hand.
"Pablo doesn't faze me," Vogelsong said, smiling. "He just talks a lot of trash. It's definitely going to be fun."
All kidding aside, more than a third of the Giants' big league roster is getting ready to leave camp. The exodus actually started
Angel Pagan and Andres Torres start workouts with Puerto Rico on March 2, and in the days that follow, Sergio Romo will join Mexico, Santiago Casilla joins the Dominican Republic, Sandoval, Marco Scutaro and Jose Mijares begin their stints with Venezuela and Vogelsong and Jeremy Affeldt leave camp to begin working with the rest of the favored American team.
To prepare for the departures, the Giants brought 37 pitchers to camp. Prospect Gary Brown will get an extended look in the outfield, and with Scutaro and Sandoval gone, manager Bruce Bochy will have plenty of Cactus League playing time for the collection of
The Giants will lose nine big leaguers and minor league catcher Tyler LaTorre (Italy) to the WBC, the second-highest total in the majors after the Milwaukee Brewers, who have 14 representatives. Even as the number of departures grew, Bochy didn't hold any players back, not even Sandoval, who will go through extra conditioning in Scottsdale before he leaves camp. Bochy said the focus instead was on making sure that those who wanted to represent their countries were ready to do so.
"It's absolutely vital that we get them game-ready before they leave us," said Bochy, who will start Vogelsong in Saturday's Cactus League opener as part of that plan.
The understanding is appreciated by Bochy's players, especially the Latin contingent that knows how much the third installment of the international tournament means in other countries. It means more to the Giants than most, too. The semifinals and championship will be held March 17-19 at AT&T Park.
Until then, the smack talk will continue. Asked how he would pitch to Sandoval if their countries square off, Casilla said the free-swinging third baseman would get a fastball right down the middle.
"Up, he can hit,"
"We'll take our time here," Lopez said. "That's the good thing about the spring. You can do that."
"Timmy feels good — feels great," Bochy said. "I thought he threw well."