Panda's comeback trail runs through Raley Field
Pablo Sandoval might not be hitting well right now, but he feels he’s “back where I belong.”
In a post on The Players’ Tribune, the Giants third baseman discusses his road back to the team that drafted him after being released from the Boston Red Sox, who signed him to a five-year, $95 million deal in free agency following the 2014 season in which San Francisco won its third World Series in five years.
The man affectionately known as “Kung Fu Panda” opens with how he learned he was being called up to San Francisco after spending nine games with the River Cats.
“I thought I was dreaming,” Sandoval wrote. “I couldn’t believe it. I went numb for like two minutes. I felt the emotions from all the ups and downs in my career – the good and the bad – come back to me at once.”
He also apologizes again to the organization and fans. Later, he describes how he felt lost in Boston.
“It just never felt like home,” Sandoval wrote. “And then I got released, and it was the worst feeling. I knew it was coming, but when it actually happened, it felt worse than I had even imagined it would. I felt like my career was over ...”
After clearing waivers, Sandoval agreed to a minor-league deal with the Giants, playing at High-A San Jose and Triple-A Sacramento before getting back to the bigs.
In 10 games this season with the Giants, Sandoval is hitting .222 (8 for 36) with a solo home run – a towering shot to Washington’s top right-field deck off All-Star starter Max Scherzer – two doubles and five runs scored.
Sandoval was a two-time All-Star in more than six seasons with San Francisco and was the 2012 World Series MVP. In Boston, he didn’t find success, hitting just .237 with 14 home runs, 59 RBIs and 53 runs scored in 161 games. He was on the disabled list four times, including a stint that had him miss all but three games in 2016.
He’s hoping to get back to what made him a favorite among Giants fans. Returning to San Francisco is a good start for him.
“It just feels so good to be home,” Sandoval says to close his piece.