San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval is welcomed home

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 05: Pablo Sandoval
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 05: Pablo Sandoval /

The San Francisco Giants signed Pablo Sandoval to a minor league contract last month after he was released from the Boston Red Sox. The major league club and their fans welcomed him back on Saturday.

The San Francisco Giants promoted Pablo Sandoval to the MLB roster following Brandon Belt‘s injury. Manager Bruce Bochy immediately gave Sandoval the role of the cleanup hitter in a lineup that has been dreadful. However, Sandoval received an emotional welcoming from the San Francisco Giants fans.

The San Francisco Giants were celebrating the 1997 division championship team prior to the game and fans were in good spirits. Those positive feelings carried over to Sandoval’s return. There were some boos among the crowd that are likely related to Sandoval’s controversial exit two-and-a-half seasons ago.

Sandoval’s return also included a double that sparked a seventh-inning rally that resulted in three runs. It was his only hit in three plate appearances and he was ultimately spelled by a pinch-hitting Buster Posey. Posey then tied the game and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-4 in 10 innings.

San Francisco wasn’t planning on having Sandoval in the lineup so soon, but with Belt’s concussion they were left with few options. Belt was hit in the helmet by a pitch during Friday’s game. Belt’s injury resulted in an opportunity for Sandoval, who is running out of chances given his past two seasons in Boston.

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Boston released him about halfway into a five-year, $95 million contract. The Red Sox still owe Sandoval $49.5 million. After his release, Sandoval had very, very few options and even fewer options regarding an MLB opportunity.

Sandoval apologized to the San Francisco Giants, the city and the fans after he claimed that the team disrespected him following the 2014 season. Sandoval now claims that he has “learned his lesson” and that he always “loved and appreciated” the San Francisco Giants.

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This season, Sandoval hit .212 in 99 at-bats at the major league level. In the minors, he hit .217 in 32 games between the High-A and Triple-A levels in the Red Sox organization. The San Francisco Giants are now giving him an opportunity to rejuvenate his career but until “Panda” actually performs, there will be a giant cloud of doubt following him wherever he goes.