Sep 12, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) is unable to field the ball cleanly during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Pablo Sandoval to play more late innings

Pablo Sandoval took attention of the media, teammates, and coaches when he showed up to Spring Training noticeably slimmer. He’s said he grew up and proved that over the offseason. Of course, many have pointed out that it is a contract year for him. Whether or a not a fat contract motivated Pablo to shed the fat, the fact is that he’s going to have to prove himself during the regular season before than contract shows up at his door.

Part of proving himself will include playing more late innings, according to MLB.com’s Chris Haft.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that Sandoval, who in the past had often been removed in late innings when the team was tied or ahead, will play entire games at third base more frequently.

“Hopefully I’m not taking him out. That’s not the plan right now,” Bochy said after the Giants’ first full-squad workout of Spring Training. “He’s out there. How they play will dictate what moves are made sometimes, but he’s a good third baseman.”

Haft goes on to say that Pablo was replaced 41 times in late innings last season, compared to just 20 times in 2009, his first full season. What a difference just a few short years, and a lot of extra pounds, make.

Let’s hope this slimmer, more mature, and new Panda sticks around a little longer than the last time he made an effort to get healthy. Most fans don’t care how much Sandoval weighs (unless you’re calling into KNBR’s #FatChat). I think what most people want to see is a healthy 3B who doesn’t need to be replaced in late innings, is a bit quicker on his feet, and with the bat.

I think Panda is ready, but only time will tell.

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