Giants’ Roberto Kelly manages Team Panama with fast track to World Baseball Classic in March 2013

Giants coach Roberto Kelly was very instrumental to
San Francisco’s 2010 and 2012 World Championships.
The San Francisco Giants have never been big in the larceny department. The 1986 team holds the franchise record with 148 stolen bases. After guiding Giants’ baserunners to a 67.5% success rate in swiping bags during his first four seasons, first base coach and baserunning instructor Roberto Kelly turned up the heat to 75% in 2012. Now as manager of host Panama in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, Kelly hopes to parlay his World Championship magic to lead Panama’s best to a ticket to the WBC competition beginning March 7, 2013.
Roberto Kelly tries to calm down the emotionally-charged Angel Pagan, who led the 2012 Giants in triples and steals.
The 2012 Giants ranked tenth overall in MLB with 118 stolen bases, a vast improvement from last year’s 24th ranking and 85 steals. The team identified baserunning as an area that needed work this past season after their NL-low 2011 run total of 570. Led by outfielders Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence and shortstop Brandon Crawford, instincts and speed made a difference when taking an extra base or advancing from first to third. Reflecting on winning the 2012 World Series and the sudden increase in offense, coach Kelly said: “First of all, we had the guys to do it with. Second, we had to score more runs.” Despite having a more mobile lineup than ever, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and catcher Buster Posey possessed less than optimal speed on base. “Obviously we’re not going to ask those guys to steal 20 bases,” Kelly said. “But they can get bigger leads and let the pitcher know they’re there. Getting a bigger lead’s going to allow you to have a better chance of going from first to third.”
Manager Bruce Bochy is delighted to have such a fine future MLB managerial candidate as Roberto Kelly.
Gregor Blanco saves Matt Cain’s perfect game with his leaping catch on June 13, 2012 and credits his coach Roberto Kelly for his defensive excellence.
San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy recalled why the Giants recruited the two-time MLB All-Star and successful minor league manager Roberto Kelly in 2008. “The teams he managed had a lot of speed and used it well,” Bochy said. “He has a great way about him, he’s very professional, and he had a successful career in the big leagues. He’ll help the runners to read pitchers, work on their jumps, their secondary leads — all the things that help you take an extra base.” Kelly also has worked with Giants outfielders and helped them post a .989 fielding percentage–third-best in MLB since 2008. Gregor Blanco credits his aggressive outfield approach in making web gem catches throughout the season and his precise bunt stop mere inches fair on the infield dirt in the World Series to coach Kelly. Blanco said, “I was joking with Roberto Kelly when I got to first base. We practiced that. That was a perfect bunt.” When the Hall of Fame asked for the glove that saved Matt Cain’s perfect game, he obliged. Blanco said, “I’m happy to be able to accomplish that,
26-year-old MLB journeyman Luis Durango, who recently signed with the Kansas City Royals, will be Panama’s spark plug against Brazil, Colombia, and Nicaragua in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier.
and I’ll be able to see my glove in Cooperstown. It’s a great deal for me. That comes from hard work and working with the guys, with Angel Pagan, with Roberto Kelly. I have to give credit to them.” Coach Kelly also likes Pagan. “He’s a great talent and has been great for us on both sides of the field,” Kelly said. “He’s been fine for us and in control. He’s very aggressive.” Switch-hitting Luis Durango is Panama manager Roberto Kelly’s answer to Pagan. The speedy outfielder recently signed with the Kansas City Royals after hitting .289 with a .352 OBP and 46 steals for Triple-A Gwinnett Braves in 2012.
Clocked running from home plate to first base on a bunt in 3.4 seconds, Luis Durango replaced injured Michael Bourn on the 2011 Houston Astros roster.
Leadoff hitter Luis Durango was one
of the few bright spots in Panama’s two losses during the 2009 World Baseball Classic Pool D competition in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In game one against host Puerto Rico, Durango singled, walked twice and stole one base. In Panama’s follow-up contest
in which they were eliminated by the Dominican Republic, he went 2-for-3. Hitting .600 in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Durango was second in the international games in batting average and on-base percentage. Panama’s 48-year-old manager will use Durango’s ability to get on base, steal a bag or two and ultimately score to win the 2012 WBC Qualifier games beginning November 15th at Panama City, Panama’s Rod Carew Stadium.
Roberto Kelly is very gracious with his time and sponsors many youth baseball clinics in Panama.
A positive role model for Panama’s next generation of MLB stars, Roberto Kelly is committed to the growth of baseball in his native homeland and is looking for ways to teach the youth about the game and life’s lessons. After enjoying a solid 14-year Major League playing career and compiling a lifetime .290 batting average with 241 doubles, 124 home runs, 585 RBI and 235 stolen bases over 1,337 games, Kelly is now a two-time World Champion MLB coach and manager of Panama’s national team. An inspiration for many on how hard work and dedication can bring success, Panama looks to Kelly
Roberto Kelly and Panama outfielder Rubén Rivera

to lead the country to greatness by advancing to the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He will not be alone in this special assignment as former MLB outfielder Rubén Rivera (1995-2003) will be there by his side every step of the way. Although his cousin–New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera–has never participated in the World Baseball Classic, Rubén will be making his third WBC appearance for Panama. Still playing ball and in excellent shape at age 39, Rubén is very much the heart and soul of this Panama squad.
Giants first base coach Roberto Kelly and 2012 World Series MVP Pablo “Panda” Sandoval
With over 3.5 million Panamanians cheering on their national baseball heroes in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier, there’s a good chance that the sense of excitement in Panama City will equal that of the recent enthusiasm at the 2012 World Series Champion Giants celebratory parade in the streets of downtown San Francisco. The common link to key both of these teams is Giant coach and Panama manager Roberto Kelly. With his expertise and his roster of very talented players, Panama is destined to party hard after a win of the
WBC Qualifier Final on November 19th.

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#48 is for Sandoval, Hunter, Hirsh & MLBblogger!!!!

Launched in mid-October to patrol the 2011 Taiwan MLB All-Star Series and the Australian Baseball League, MLBblogger was ranked #48 in the 2011 Top 100 MLB.com Blogs after registering at #10 in November totals and giving others a 42 week head start. We would like to thank Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, the Australian Baseball League, our readers, and family members who have supported our international 24/7 baseball coverage in 2011. As a token of our appreciation, we have dedicated our first official post for 2012 to those special players who share the #48 jersey–including San Francisco Giant infielder Pablo Sandoval AKA Kung Fu Panda, Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim outfielder Torii Hunter and Melbourne Ace pitcher Jason Hirsh. Read on and learn about the mystery behind the #48.

The Zen of #48 Kung Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval of the 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants
Major League Baseball is played in the U.S.A.’s 48 contiguous states and Canada. It is reported that Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, sat under a bo tree for 48 days attempting to figure out life, which developed into a type of spirit of the mind called Buddhism and its resulting expressions called Zen. There is a strong connection between Zen and baseball in Japan as the game developed there during a period of isolationism when nothing else was going on. Exported to America in 1873 by an English teacher named Horace Wilson, who taught at the University of Tokyo, baseball was in its purest form then with much emphasis on its pageantry and symmetry of the perfect diamond shape playing field. During times of drought in ancient times, the baseball fields were made up mostly of sand. Each base represented one of Japan’s islands, and players ran from base-to-base for refuge. The fields were raked before and after each game with different patterns in the sand so that the ball traveled in specific strategic directions once hit.
2011 Roberto Clemente Award nominee LA Angel of Anaheim #48 Torii Hunter is in Nirvana with the protection of Albert Pujols.

After the game took on a more competitive edge and the detailed sand patterns were a thing of the past, many retired ball players became gardeners and specialized in sand gardens, which provided a meditation spot for baseball memories. One can see the real life relationship between Zen and baseball practice where skill is perfected. The act of practicing repeatedly until the point of satisfaction is of utmost importance. A player faces an uphill battle in his difficult task and must remain Zen-like focused despite day-to-day adversity. Practice portrays a vision of life filled with the joy and happiness of baseball success. Yet, if one suffers a setback or injury in the process, there is always hope of a better tomorrow.
Life is a struggle, but we will never give in. Through personal persistence and cooperation from others, one’s dreams need not be compromised as all things are possible.

MLB veteran and current ABL Melbourne Ace pitcher #48 Jason Hirsh is making a comeback and is due for some good Karma in 2012.

Former MLB pitcher and current ABL Melbourne Ace Jason Hirsh is living proof that better must come one day. Now rehabbing after major shoulder surgery, which put him on the shelf for entire 2011 season, he shares with the world the aches and pains of a player’s battle to return into peak pitching form by writing an eloquent blog On My Way Back Up Down Under. Since coming back from surgery, the 29-year-old Southern California native has been pitching well for the Aces and has tallied two wins in seven starts. A seasoned pro with the Houston Astros, Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees organizations, Hirsh is a mentor and an inspiration for aspiring players in the ABL hoping to join the game’s elite.

Chinese Taipei Baseball All-Star Chien-Ming Wang + The Unknown Factor Against Kung Fu Panda & MLB All-Stars = 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series

Could this be the Year of the Panda? Coined “Kung Fu Panda” for jumping over a catcher at home plate to score a run and demonstrating acrobatic play at the end of the 2008 season by San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito, switch-hitting infielder Pablo Sandoval from Venezuela has been at the center of “panda-monium” since the Giants won the 2010 World Series. Kung Fu Panda’s good luck charm and real-life manager, San Francisco Giants skipper Bruce Bochy, is also the manager for the visiting MLB All-Stars during the five-game 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series against the talented Chinese Taipei National Baseball Team. Sandoval will be eating his share of fortune cookies as he faces off against MLB’s Taiwanese-born pitcher Chien-Ming Wang in a Chinese Taipei uniform and a slew of unknown hurlers for the first time ever in Taiwan. Sandoval is not alone as only four of the players on the MLB All-Stars roster have had any at bats against MLB.com’s 2006 Starting Pitcher of the Year.  In the 2006 and 2007 seasons during which Wang led the New York Yankees pitching staff with nineteen wins each year, infielder Ty Wigginton batted a respectable .353 and outfielder Curtis Granderson put together a lukewarm .273 batting average against Wang. More recently this season, utilityman Emilio Bonifacio and pitcher Dillion Gee managed to squeak a hit each during Chien-Ming Wang’s comeback year after a long bout with injuries, surgery and rehab assignments. Former New York Yankee teammate and current MLB All-Star Robinson Cano looks forward to seeing Wang–even if he is playing for Chinese Taipei. He commented, “Wang’s a good person both on and off the field, and he always works hard on the mound. I’m happy to see that he’s back from his injury, and I believe he’ll be able to continue to maintain his health and have a bright future.”

Televised 2011 Taiwan All-Star Baseball Series Extends MLB Season, Unites Countries & Cultures

While most believe the World Series marks the year end of professional baseball and the beginning of a long drought without America’s favorite pastime, the true diehard fans get a weeklong reprieve as some of Major League Baseball’s best players will go head-to-head against a very talented Chinese Taipei national team beginning November 1st. MLB Network has announced its plans to televise the highly-anticipated 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series, five contests between the MLB All-Stars and the Chinese Taipei national team. The games will be played in three different cities in the Republic of China–November 1 at XinZhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, November 3 & 4 at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, and November 5 & 6 at Cheng-Ching Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung. With the exception of a 2 pm(PST) start time on November 5th, first pitch is scheduled for 6 pm(PST) every night. MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger and Larry Bowa will call the games.

“Major League Baseball is excited to take another important step in showcasing our great game to Taiwan, continuing our objective to bring baseball to fans throughout the world,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. “We are pleased that many fine players will represent Major League Baseball when they meet the top talents of Taiwan.” The series is made possible through a partnership between MLB and the Major League Players Association in an effort to promote the game of baseball internationally and showcase talent from around the world.

The Republic of China, better known as Taiwan, has a wealth of talented baseball players. Los Angeles Dodgers Hong-Chih Kuo was expected to pitch for the Chinese Taipei national team, but instead upon the recommendation of his Los Angeles-based team doctor skipped the series to undergo surgery on his left elbow. However, there is still Washington Nationals Chien-Ming Wang–the highly-touted Taiwanese-born pitcher once known for his dreaded sinkerball and near 100 mph velocity–who is slated to be among the Chinese Taipei national team’s pitching rotation. Upon his arrival in Taipei last week, Wang commented that it had been a long time since he had played with Taiwanese players but expressed joy in being in his home country of Taiwan. His MLB comeback after two years of rehabilitation from injuries was described by Nationals manager Davey Johnson as “a remarkable season” for Wang, who posted a 4-3 record and a 4.04 ERA. In his final four starts of the season, Wang struck out 16 and walked none in 23 2/3 innings pitched. The Nationals have set a three inning or 60 pitch limit for Wang according to Taiwan national team manager Chen Wei-Cheng, who has yet to decide which game Wang will pitch. Part of the Chinese Taipei national team’s secret arsenal includes Detroit Tigers lefty reliever Ni Fu-Te, the Taiwanese-born southpaw who posted an impressive 2.61 ERA as a rookie two years ago. Although Ni was confined to AAA ball this season, he did get the opportunity to shine at MLB Spring Training Camp, where he allowed only four hits and one earned run in his 10 innings of work.

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy will manage the MLB All-Stars. Bochy’s coaching staff will be comprised of his current Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, Giants bullpen catcher Billy Hayes, Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Tampa Bay Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton along with Rays equipment and home clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland. The MLB All-Stars include: pitchers Colin Balester, Trevor Bell, Bill Bray, Phil Coke, Ross Detwiler, Dillon Gee, Jeremy Guthrie, LaTroy Hawkins, Mark Melancon, Felipe Paulino, Ramon Ramirez, Rich Thompson and Jose Veras; catchers Drew Butera, Jeff Mathis, and Ronnie Paulino; infielders Erick Aybar, Robinson Cano, Michael Morse, Ryan Roberts, Pablo Sandoval, Danny Valencia and Ty Wigginton; outfielders Emilio Bonifacio, Curtis Granderson, Logan Morrison, Josh Reddick and Andres Torres.

Perhaps the biggest proponent of the upcoming Taiwan All-Star Series is the Washington Nationals Mascot, Screech. The furry white eagle was chosen as the mascot for the series and will accompany the MLB All-Stars to Taiwan. This week Screech was on the set of a short film shot in Washington, DC to promote the international baseball games. Screech dazzled the crowd–including the Ambassador of Taiwan, Jason Yuan–by speaking and whistling in Mandarin Chinese and eating with chopsticks. The short film of Taiwan culture, featuring Screech, can be viewed on the Washington Nationals official website (washingtonnationals.com) and the mascot’s blog (screech.mlblogs.com).