Pablo Sandoval back to the giant, waiting for the body after the release of the red socks

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval has struck a minor league deal to return to the San Francisco Giants, pending a physical, according to multiple reports.

The former Giants star is en route to San Francisco after his release from the Boston Red Sox earlier Wednesday. Sandoval, who will turn 31 in August, will take a physical for the Giants then begin playing in Triple-A Sacramento, the reports said.

Because Sandoval is on waivers, he won’t be able to sign a contract until later in the week, when he officially becomes a free agent.

“I’m waiting for Friday to make a decision, and the Giants are one of my options,” Sandoval told ESPN’s Marly Rivera by phone. “I have a few teams interested, but I can’t make a decision until Friday.”

The 2012 World Series MVP with the Giants was let go Wednesday by the Red Sox when he didn’t report after being designated for assignment last week. It officially ended the Boston tenure for the once-celebrated free agent, who never was healthy enough to live up to the expectations that came with the $95 million contract he signed in 2014.

“He did a lot here, and we’ll never forget that,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told KNBR 680 radio on Wednesday. “Sometimes, it makes sense, especially when you’re looking at it financially, it doesn’t cost you a lot.”

First baseman Brandon Belt expects Sandoval to again become a fan favorite.

“He was a big part of our World Series runs, so I think he’s always going to have a place here in San Francisco and everybody’s going to love that he’s back,” Belt said while walking into the ballpark Thursday. “I haven’t seen him in a while, so I don’t know. I think he was definitely a fan favorite, so I don’t think there’s going to be any problem with that.”

With the Red Sox unable to find a team willing to take on part of his salary, Sandoval moved on after 161 games, 575 at-bats, 136 hits and 14 homers for Boston — but not a single one of them in the postseason.

He’ll now rejoin the reorganization he helped to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

“I loved the way he played,” Bochy said. “He had so much enthusiasm, and that got infectious in that dugout. And of course, what he did for us on the field … a young guy that needed some help, so we all tried to do our part to make him a better player.

“He was a great guy to have on the club. A hard worker, a quick learner.”

The Knicks, the Rockets work in Carmelo Anthony’s trading venues

The New York Knicks and Houston Rockets have expanded the scope of a possible Carmelo Anthony trade to include four-team scenarios, league sources told ESPN.

No deal was imminent Wednesday, but the Knicks and Rockets are confident that they have a willing third-team trade partner, the sources said.

The fourth team was needed to move a particular player contract that neither the Knicks nor Rockets could or would accept in the deal, league sources said.

Anthony, 33, has two years and $54 million left on his contract.

The complexity of including multiple teams and assets in a deal creates time-consuming challenges, and there’s no guarantee that a deal can be reached.

Nevertheless, New York has been pushing hard to unload Anthony in recent weeks, although it hasn’t necessarily changed an asking price that makes the deal a challenge for Houston, league sources said. The Knicks aren’t interested in the Rockets’ older players and big contracts, so new teams have to be brought into the deal to find a way to satisfy the Knicks.

Anthony is willing to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to the Rockets or Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources said. The Cavaliers haven’t abandoned pursuit of Anthony, league sources said.

Houston moved to the top of Anthony’s list of preferred destinations with the arrival of close friend and All-Star guard Chris Paul to join MVP runner-up James Harden.

Through 14 NBA seasons, Anthony, a 10-time All-Star, has averaged nearly 25 points a game. He has played the past seven seasons with the Knicks, who say they’re committed to rebuilding around Kristaps Porzingis and younger players.

The Knicks’ front office has been privately saying that the organization’s marching orders are now focusing on players 25 years old and younger, league sources said.

The Yankees’ Sanchez was tempered at Ryan’s Logan Morrison rocket

Gary Sanchez had a simple response after Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Logan Morrison said the New York Yankees catcher didn’t belong in the Home Run Derby.

“It’s not my fault he didn’t get selected,” Sanchez said through an interpreter.

 

Gary Sanchez is heading to the Home Run Derby.

 
Morrison has 24 home runs this season, tied for second in the majors, but he didn’t get an invitation. Sanchez has 13 home runs in an injury-shortened first half and is competing in Monday’s event.

“Gary shouldn’t be there,” Morrison told the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby.

“I remember when I had 14 home runs. That was a month and a half ago.”

Sanchez will join his Yankees teammate, rookie Aaron Judge — the overall leader in home runs with 28 — Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas and Minnesota’s Miguel Sano on the four-man team that will represent the American League.

“What can I say?” Sanchez said. “They gave me a call, gave me an invitation to participate.”Morrison said Wednesday that his comments weren’t about Sanchez.

“People can read it and say he’s jealous of Gary because he got picked, but it’s not about that,” Morrison said before Tampa Bay’s game in Chicago against the Cubs. “Eric Thames got slighted, too. How is that guy not in the Home Run Derby for the National League? It’s a flawed system.”

Sanchez has the fewest homers among those competing, but he missed more than a month of the season because of a strained biceps.

Defending champion Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, teammate Justin Bour, Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger and Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon make up the National League team.

Sanchez did have one stipulation for participating in the derby.

“I told them, ‘I don’t even know if I’m making the All-Star Game,’” Sanchez said. “If I make the All-Star Game then for sure I’ll do it. It’s an honor to participate in the event. It’s not my fault he didn’t get selected. Like I said before, I’m just happy to participate and it will be an honor to be part of it.”

Morrison might get a chance to go to the All-Star Game. Although he wasn’t chosen for the AL team, he is on the five-man ballot for the final spot on the squad.

Gordon Hayward told Jazz that he was refusing to choose that would be a free agent

All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward formally notified the Utah Jazz on Thursday that he is declining his $16.7 million player option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to league sources.

Hayward had a Thursday deadline to make the decision. According to league sources, he will visit the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat once free agency starts Saturday at 12:01 a.m. ET before granting a face-to-face recruiting meeting with the Jazz.

ESPN reported earlier this month that the Heat concerned the Jazz as much as Boston in free agency, but the Celtics have since amped up their interest in Hayward, who played for Boston coach Brad Stevens at Butler University.

The Celtics, sources say, have been focused in recent days on trying to secure a free-agent commitment from Hayward and then trying to complete a trade for Indiana’s Paul George, in hopes of potentially assembling another superteam in the Golden State mode by adding those two alongside All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and former All-Star Al Horford.

But league sources say the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers all remain in trade pursuit of George, which could enhance Utah’s odds of keeping Hayward.

‎The Celtics and Heat can offer Hayward a four-year maximum deal valued at $127 million. Only the Jazz can offer a five-year deal worth an estimated $180 million.

Adrian Peterson bought a pair of Yeezys for FB John Kuhn

John Kuhn and Adrian Peterson have spent most of their careers playing for two rivals, the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, respectively. But this season, they’ll both suit up for the New Orleans Saints. It’ll be Kuhn’s second year with the team.

Peterson is aware that Kuhn will play an integral role in his success this season, so the former Vikings star went out of his way to give the fullback a fresh pair of cream Yeezy Boost V2s to show his appreciation.

And from the look of things, it gave Kuhn some added motivation to block for the seven-time Pro Bowler.

Usually, offensive lines reap these types of benefits, but the popular Kanye West shoe, designed by Adidas, is both expensive and hard to come by.

So it was probably a lot easier for Peterson to get his hands on one pair instead of five.

Peterson has scored double-digit rushing touchdowns in eight of his 10 NFL seasons. With Kuhn’s help, he’ll be aiming to increase that mark to nine seasons in 2017.

Peter Laviolette: Subban’s head was ‘crosschecked into ice’ by Crosby

Nashville Predators coach Peter Laviolette said he was perplexed by the officials’ decision in the first period of Game 5 on Thursday night, when Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby repeatedly slammed the head of Predators counterpart P.K. Subban into the ice during a scrum behind Pittsburgh’s net.

Crosby and Subban both got matching minor penalties for holding.

“I don’t understand it,” Laviolette said after Pittsburgh’s 6-0 win. “I really don’t understand the call.

“I saw my guy get his head crosschecked into the ice 10 times. I don’t even know what he did, P.K. I disagree with the call.”

Referee Brad Meier was right over both players watching the scrum unfold.

After the game, Crosby said Subban “lost his stick and he was doing some UFC move on my foot there. I don’t know what he was trying to do.”

When asked if it’s getting personal between him and Crosby, Subban said, “It’s hockey, man.”

“I’m not an official, so I’m not going to judge what’s over the line and what’s not,” Subban said. “I mean … at the end of the day, I just gotta play the game and play the game. If those opportunities come when someone does something that warrants a penalty, then it’s up to the officials to call it. If they don’t, then we just gotta move forward.”

Crosby also avoided a penalty in the second period. While on the bench, he threw a water bottle in the direction of Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm after Ekholm swung his stick and missed Chris Kunitz behind the play.

Crosby looked to be upset that a penalty wasn’t called on Nashville, but he told officials the move was unintentional.

“It’s just one of those things, it slipped out of my hand,” Crosby said. “I had a gesture with my hand, and before I knew it the thing was flying across the ice. I know you’re not allowed to do that, so I’m not going to start doing it in the Stanley Cup Final.”

The Penguins now lead the Stanley Cup Final 3-2.

Sidney Crosby denies P.K. Subban’s bad breath claim: ‘He made that up’

Sidney Crosby delivered a sharp rebuttal after P.K. Subban, Nashville’s All-Star defenseman, alleged the Penguins star made fun of his breath Saturday night during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

On Sunday, Crosby fired back at Subban and took issue with the allegation.

“Yeah, he made that up. I didn’t say that,” Crosby told reporters. Subban said Saturday that after he approached Crosby from behind and then got within close proximity, the Penguins’ captain made a verbal jab about Subban’s breath.

When asked if Subban was trying to get under his skin and see how he’d react to the claim, Crosby agreed, saying “that’s part of it.”

“He likes the attention and things like that,” Crosby said. “If he wants to make things up, what can I do?”

Things appeared to get testy between the star players toward the end of Nashville’s 5-1 win, in which the Predators and Pittsburgh combine for 70 penalty minutes,

“He told me my breath smelled, but I don’t know,” Subban told Pierre Maguire during a televised postgame interview shortly after the Predators won to cut the defending champions’ series lead to 2-1.

“I used Listerine before the game,” Subban continued. “So I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

On Sunday, Subban was informed by a reporter that Crosby would likely be asked about his claim.

“Are you guys gonna ask him that? Well, it’ll be interesting to see if he says what he said last night,” Subban said.

Crosby and Subban can continue their exchange Monday night when the Predators host Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena.

Mental toughness has made goalie Craig Anderson the Ottawa Senators’ steely savior

OTTAWA — Mike Condon is a goalie union guy. Given the opportunity, the Ottawa Senators backup likes to chat with opposing netminders before games. Maybe he’ll just say hello. During warm-ups, he often talks shop with other goalies along the red line.

Last year, when Condon was serving as a backup for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he faced the Senators. Before the game, Condon made eye contact with Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, surmised that Anderson didn’t want to chat and simply gave a little head nod.

Anderson just stared back at him.

Condon, an affable guy, took the slight like most of us would.

“[I thought], ‘This guy’s a jerk,’” said Condon, who is now Anderson’s backup in Ottawa, with a laugh. “I don’t know what the right word is — surly?”

The moment stuck with Condon — who, along with Anderson and the rest of their Senators teammates, will face Pittsburgh on Thursday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals — so he later asked him about it. Why couldn’t Anderson at least have nodded back?

“He was like, ‘I’m playing you. I want to beat you,’” Condon said. “He’s a great guy. But he’s a great competitor.”

And that was before the game. Once the puck drops, Anderson is even more intense. Condon pointed to an exchange between Anderson and Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin near the end of one of the Eastern Conference final games. Malkin had spent a little too much time in the crease and Condon heard Anderson make it clear to the Penguins star that it wasn’t acceptable.

“He got into it with Malkin,” Condon said. “He said he was going to slash him if he came in there again. A little old-school hockey.”

Anderson is definitely a throwback — or maybe, at 36, one of the last ones standing from a bygone era. He’s not robotic. He doesn’t necessarily rely on technique or play on auto-pilot. He’s out there making saves. When Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was in the other net, seeing how Fleury and Anderson reacted to shots was sometimes like watching a game film from another time. At times, it looks like Anderson is almost daring the shooter to beat him.

Too often in Game 5, they did. Anderson was pulled — not once, but twice — as he allowed four goals on 14 shots. It threatened to end a season that has been part magical and part inspirational for Anderson on an ugly note. The Penguins’ offense had finally arrived, and it looked like there was nothing Anderson could do about it.

Until Game 6.

“He gave us a chance to come back,” Senators forward Mike Hoffman said of Anderson, who made 45 saves in Ottawa’s 2-1 win over the Penguins on Tuesday night.

Anderson is the main reason there will be a Game 7 in this series. The way he completely flushed away a disappointing performance and rebounded with one of the most impressive individual goaltending displays this postseason, allowing the Senators to live another day, encapsulates his mental toughness as well as anything.

The Senators expect that from Anderson. They’ve seen him do it too many times not to.

How long did it take Anderson to move on from the ugly loss in Game 5?

“Oh God, Andy does that right after the game,” Senators defenseman Marc Methot said. “He’s a veteran goalie. He’s been around a long time. In my opinion, [he's] one of the best goaltenders in the league and he’s shown it all season for us. To see him have a bounce-back game, I’m not even remotely surprised.”

Anderson has been in the NHL since the 2002-03 season. He’s seen some things.

He said his biggest strides as a pro came once he started focusing on the mental aspect of the game. He began working with a sports psychologist shortly after his professional career started. Anderson continues to study the psychological side of the game by reading books on the topic.

“Having nights like tonight just emphasizes things you’ve read or things you’ve been taught,” Anderson said after carrying his team in Game 6.

When Senators coach Guy Boucher, who coached the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2010 to 2013, followed by a stint in Switzerland, was considering whether to return to NHL — and specifically whether to take that plunge with the Senators — the goalie situation was where he focused. Yes, it would be nice to coach star defenseman Erik Karlsson, but Boucher had been burned previously by bad goaltending.

The Lightning have benefited from standout play from both Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy the past few years. But it wasn’t always that way in Tampa Bay. When a Boucher-led team last made the postseason, it was on the back of a resurrected Dwayne Roloson, who at 41 helped the Lightning reach the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, where they lost to the Bruins in seven games.

Once that magic ended, the Lightning cycled through goalies. The season Boucher was fired, his options in goal were Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon, neither of whom had a save percentage above .902. It made winning consistently nearly impossible.

So when Boucher considered the Senators job, he took it seriously first and foremost because of Anderson.

“If I didn’t have a No. 1 goalie, I didn’t want the job,” Boucher said. “It’s hell when you don’t have one, because everything you do turns to darkness.”

Thanks to Anderson, the light is still burning for this remarkable Senators playoff run. He’s given them one more game. At least.

Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson leaves Game 5 to rest

PITTSBURGH — Ottawa Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who has been battling leg injuries, left Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals in the second period Sunday after his left ankle twisted awkwardly when he collided with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Scott Wilson along the boards.

Senators coach Guy Boucher said after the game — a 7-0 Pittsburgh victory — that he decided not to play Karlsson in the third period with the Senators trailing 5-0. He expects him to be ready for Game 6 on Tuesday.

Karlsson already has played through hairline fractures in the same foot during this playoff run for the Senators, a revelation he shared following the first-round win over Boston.

Ottawa forward Derick Brassard and defenseman Cody Ceci also were not on the bench for the third period. Brassard had a collision with Penguins forward Chris Kunitz that kept him face down on the ice for several moments. Ceci has battled injuries down the stretch this season. Boucher said they also could have played if the game was close.

The Penguins lead the series 3-2.

Pens’ Marc-Andre Fleury pulled after Senators score 4 in first

The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after he allowed four Ottawa Senators goals on nine shots in less than 13 minutes of work in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Matt Murray came in to replace Fleury in his first action of the 2017 playoffs. Murray had been penciled in as the team’s starting goaltender, but suffered a lower-body injury in warm-ups prior to Game 1 of the team’s first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Murray served as the team’s goalie last postseason — one that ended with the Penguins hoisting the Stanley Cup.

The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1.

Fleury was 18-10-7 this season for the Penguins with a .909 save percentage. He started one playoff game during the Penguins’ run last spring. He was the hero of Pittsburgh’s Game 7 victory over Detroit in the 2009 Stanley Cup finals.