Sep 29, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) hits an RBI single against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Pablo Sandoval flitted into camp this spring, a mere shadow of his former self, and got San Francisco Giants fans flapping their jaws about the possibility of a contract extension, particularly if the grand event could take place before the season began. After all, if the Giants management could take care of this piece of business in a timely manner, it would avoid the feeding frenzy at the trough, when Pablo actually tries his luck with the open market after season’s end. If you do not think there are other teams out there that would love to sport the marketing angle of The Panda, then you have never watched a game, televised from AT&T Park. Those aren’t Teddy Bear masks those fans are wearing.
Pablo has steadfastly refused to divulge the magic number, insisting that the media will be privy to this information when he officially weighs in at the end of spring training. Judging from the smiling face of Bruce Bochy, though, I’d say the boss doesn’t really care. Pablo, always quick and sure-handed at third, has a snappier first step and seems bound and determined to keep up his conditioning regimen.
To this effect, he has brought his trainer up from Venezuela, and maintains that he will continue to stay in shape, anticipating that there are those who will have long memories. After sitting the 2010 World Series, Sandoval went on a similar tear, and came into spring training equally motivated. Unfortunately, when the wheels came off the training cart, Pablo was right there to help himself. Now he insists that it’s not his contract that he cares about, but his team.
Bochy doesn’t care about the politics of a contract extension; he cares about fielding a third baseman who does not resemble a beached whale. It’s Brian Sabean who does not want to get grounded by a weight issue. He knows that Pablo’s offensive production soared after he came into camp so light in 2011, that he hit .315, with 23 home runs. Like the rest of us, he then watched as Pablo ponied up for only 26 dingers in the next two season combined. Additionally, of the 138 games he started in 2013, he was removed for defensive purposes in the late innings, forty times. Ach tung, Chucko!
So what’s it all add up to? Do we really want to give up on the guy who hit three home runs in the opening game of the 2012 World Series, to beat the “best pitcher on the planet?” When Justin Verlander went down, he took the Tigers with him. The ship lost its sail, the Big Cat lost its roar, whatever. And it was the Panda that accomplished this. I don’t know. Maybe it’s as simple as attaching a weight clause to his contract. If he exceeds the prescribed number of pounds, then he sits, just like in the Series.
However, I firmly believe that the Giants should take care of business, and do it quickly. After all, we saw how frustrated Pablo was during the 2010 World Series. It’s all about cause and effect: If he sees the connection between lingering at the dinner table and sitting on the bench, then we’re in business. If not, then the weight clause kicks in and he’ll be following Kruk’s advice to “grab some pine, Meat.”
And that’s a real shame because bats aren’t made out of pine.