The San Francisco Giants took a risk when they brought back Pablo Sandoval last season after the “Kung Fu Panda” signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox in 2014.
Sandoval had made some unflattering comments on his way out about the team and the organization and the fans were upset with the once beloved “Panda.”
However, once he was cut from the Red Sox, the Giants had an opportunity to bring back a player they knew who had been productive for them for years. He had the motivation for redemption, and slowly, the fans have begun to accept him back.
Last night, he broke open an extra inning tie in the 16th inning to finally end a road trip that nearly saw the Giants get swept in Miami.
Tonight, he was in the on deck circle as the game ended, and had someone found a way on base in the ninth, Sandoval would have come up with a chance to take the lead for the Giants.
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Two years ago, that thought would have been unheard of, and last year, no fan would have had confidence in Pablo coming through in a clutch situation anymore.
Now, as Sandoval continues to earn playing time, he is becoming more and more crucial for the Giants.
After his apology last season, it was clear some fans had not yet forgiven the three time World Series champion.
After tonight’s home run against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, it is clear that nearly everyone is happy to have Pablo Sandoval back.
Evan Longoria, who broke his hand last night, will be out for several weeks. Brandon Belt, who had an emergency appendectomy surgery has been out for three weeks. Sandoval has been the natural replacement at first and third with injuries to Longoria and Belt. However, that’s not all. With Joe Panik and Alen Hanson hurt earlier this year and Kelby Tomlinson struggling, Sandoval played some second base for the Giants.
He has also taken grounders at shortstop, is the team’s emergency catcher, and infamously pitched a scoreless inning of relief earlier this year in a blowout loss.
With the Panda also getting time as the team’s designated hitter and pinch hitter, it would not shock anyone to see him playing short, in the outfield, or even starting a game.
Maybe that last one won’t happen, but with the way the 2018 season is going for Pablo Sandoval, anything seems possible.