SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One of the many disappointing parts of the 2018 season was the fact that a hamstring injury cost Pablo Sandoval the chance to play all nine positions in a game in late September. Bruce Bochy wanted to make it happen, and during their first conversation ahead of the 2019 season, Sandoval reminded his manager of his versatility.
Sandoval volunteered to be the third catcher for a second straight year, and as he did last spring, he will catch a few bullpen sessions. “It’s just to keep the cobwebs from getting too big on him,” Bochy said. Sandoval again volunteered to play some second base if needed.
And, of course, he reminded Bochy that he can pitch and would like to pitch.
“He’s perfect, and he wants to do it,” Bochy said. “He showed he’s pretty good at it.”
“I hate to think of him pitching again,” Bochy said.
That’s because Bochy doesn’t want to be in that position. He never used a position player on the mound until last season, when he was in such a bind on two occasions that Sandoval and Chase d’Arnaud both took the mound. Bochy hopes a situation is never that dire this year. He also doesn’t want to think about Sandoval playing all nine positions, because that would mean the Giants have meaningless games in September.
If the Giants are to stay in the race, Sandoval could end up being a nice piece. Farhan Zaidi likes versatility, and Sandoval can handle significant time at first and third. He can play second in a pinch. Zaidi also likes platoons, and Sandoval’s splits have intrigued him. He had a .816 OPS against right-handed pitching last season with eight of his nine homers.
The Giants have Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt locked in as everyday players on the corners, but as they look to exploit every advantage, Sandoval may see more time in certain situations. He fits a lot of what Zaidi looks for.
“He gives you options,” Bochy said.