Editor's note: The 2019 Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards airs Sunday at 7 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.
Bruce Bochy was unable to attend the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards on Wednesday night when Pablo Sandoval honored the Giants manager for the life-changing impact he's had on him.
As Bochy attended his son's wedding, he still found a way to video his message of gratitude to Sandoval. In doing so, the manager turned into a bit of a comedian.
"I am so deeply honored by Pablo naming me his Game Changer," Bochy said to begin his speech. "It is what it's all about, the relationships. It's something that I will always remember because we do have a special relationship.
"As I look back to 2008, Felipe Alou kept telling me about this pudgy kid down in A-ball, what a good ballplayer he was and what an impact player he's gonna be."
Sandoval joined the Giants in August and made an immediate impact. He hit .345 in 41 games played, showing elite potential at the plate. Bochy believes he would have won Rookie of the Year in 2009 if it weren't for him having too many at-bats the year before and the numbers agree with the manager: .300 with 25 home runs and a .943 OPS.
In 2010, Sandoval was a massive disappointment as the Giants were seeking their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco. He hit just .268 with 13 home runs and led the league by hitting into 26 double plays. Even as he lost his starting job in the postseason, though, he still earned Bochy's respect.
"2010, we had a little hiccup. We made a change there in the postseason, and Pablo really showed what he's all about" Bochy said. "He was a role player and did what he could to help, but he really learned from that. That's what I really love about this man -- how he handles everything thrown at him and how mature he's become."
That comedy portion of Bochy's speech really started in spring training of 2014, Sandoval's last season with the Giants before he returned in 2017. The World Baseball Classic was that year, and the third baseman was determined to play.
"He really wanted to represent Venezuela. Well I had to give him some tough love because he put this pretty good sized winter coat on that year and we had to get him to lose some weight," Bochy said with a laugh as Sandoval smile and shook his head. "I said, 'Pablo, you can't play in it. We gotta get this weight off ya.' I'm talkin' about 20 pounds.
"This World Baseball Classic was eight days away. Well seven days later he steps on the scale and this man had lost over 20 pounds. I still don't know how he did it. The point being, that's how much he wanted to represent his country, that's how much he wanted to play the game. That says a lot about him."
Even when Sandoval spurned San Francisco for Boston before the 2015 season, Bochy kept a soft spot for him. When the Red Sox released him in July of 2017 after a forgettable time in Bean Town, Bochy wanted him back with the Giants.
"I think he realized he left his heart in San Francisco," Bochy said. "He came back as even a different man because now he's a role player, and good players, good teammates, they're willing to set aside their own agenda and do what's best for the club. He showed up with about four different gloves, He had a catcher's mitt, a first baseman's mitt, a third baseman's mitt, an outfielder's glove ... I said, 'you put the outfielder's glove away though Pablo.' That one's not gonna happen."
Sandoval won't see any time in the outfield for the Giants, but in 2018 he played third base, first base, second base, DH, and even pitched a hitless inning. The two-time All-Star and World Series MVP is now a player willing to do anything for the team, in any role.
As Sandoval watched Bochy tell how much he's meant to him, even at the expense of some jokes and funny stories, one thing never wavered -- Pablo's smile.
"He's just been a joy for me," Bochy said.