With a return to the big league club imminent after the weekend, San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval made his first rehab start with High-A San Jose on Friday. The Kung-Fu Panda, out of action since July 24 with a hamstring strain, went hitless in two at-bats. The 26-year-old switch-hitter has the ability to give the Giants a huge offensive boost upon his return, as only Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey have a higher wOBA roster wide in 2012.
San Francisco, who also acquired Hunter Pence near the trade deadline to help provide some offense, boasts outstanding pitching but currently ranks 11th in the National League with a .703 OPS and ninth in runs scored with 471. Sandoval, a career .306/.355/.499 hitter, figures to help greatly if he can come back and keep his bulky body in the lineup.
Coming into play today, the Giants are deadlocked with the Dodgers in the NL West, each team sporting an identical 61-52 record. The Diamondbacks, who have cooled of late, still loom four games back with a 57-56 record. The stretch run figures to feature all three teams taking a spirited shot at claiming the division crown, and the Giants will have their work cut out for them.