Back in the Bay Area as a member of the Boston Red Sox, former Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval said he was “excited” to receive his 2014 World Series ring from Giants staff on Sunday night and that he has “no hard feelings” toward his former team or executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean over the way their contract negotiations played out last year.
Sandoval signed a five-year, $95 million free-agent deal with the Red Sox in November after seven seasons with the Giants, who originally signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela in 2003. Sandoval’s tenure with the Giants included two All-Star appearances and three World Series titles, and Sandoval was a popular player with fans who embraced his animated personality and “Kung Fu Panda” nickname.
This spring, Sandoval directed some pointed comments toward his former team in an article by Bleacher Report, saying it was “not hard at all” to leave the Giants and that the Giants had disrespected his agent in contract negotiations. In the report, Sandoval said he played most of 2014 knowing he would not return to San Francisco, and that manager Bruce Bochy was “the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys.”
Addressing a group of reporters in the dugout at O.co Coliseum on Monday, Sandoval said he “accept(s) what I said” but also indicated those comments had not fully captured his feelings toward his old teammates.
“If you’re going to tell every name that I missed, it’s going to be a long interview,” said Sandoval. “I just say those names because Bochy’s like my dad, always believed in me, and Hunter’s the greatest player that I’ve been (with), played (with). So it’s nothing about my teammates, nothing about the fan support.”
The Giants gave Sandoval his ring at the Red Sox team hotel on Sunday night, with new GM Bobby Evans, Bochy and president and CEO Larry Baer making the presentation. Sandoval said he and the Giants representatives talked for about 20 minutes, and he was “excited to see them.”
“They gave me an opportunity to be in professional baseball, gave me the opportunity when I was 16 years old,” Sandoval said when asked how he feels now toward the Giants. “They opened the door to be in the big leagues. They give me three rings. Why am I going to be sad?”
In the Bleacher Report story, Sandoval was quoted as saying the Giants “didn’t respect my agent – contract talks, everything – the way Brian Sabean talked to my agent.” Asked about his feelings toward Sabean on Monday, Sandoval said: “Nothing bad.”
“Why am I going to feel something bad?” Sandoval said. “He (taught) me a lot of things, respect the game.
“It’s part of his job. He’s doing his job, I’m doing mine; so no hard feelings.”
In 29 games for the Red Sox, Sandoval is hitting .306 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. New Boston hitting coach Chili Davis, formerly of the A’s, said Sandoval’s demeanor in the clubhouse and on the field is what he expected from observing Sandoval’s time with the Giants.
“He’s a lot of energy,” Davis said. “A Kirby Puckett type.”
Sandoval said he spent some time walking around San Francisco – where the Red Sox are staying – on Monday but that he didn’t interact much with fans. “Nothing,” he said. “I was surprised.”
Asked if he had a message for Giants fans, Sandoval said: “You know, the only thing that I want to say to them is that I always gave them 150 percent on the field, always played hard for them … and gave the best effort to put a great show out there for them.”
“They know that I love them. So that’s all that matters.”
Sandoval seemed content with his new situation with the Red Sox, saying there are things he misses about the Bay Area but that Boston is “a great city, too.”
“I feel good,” Sandoval said. “You know, it’s a new team, new challenge that I picked. Why am I going to be looking for other stuff? I’m happy the way I am right now, doing my job.”