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Giants release Sandoval with Smoak expected to take spot

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The writing was on the wall Wednesday when the Giants signed Justin Smoak, a switch-hitter who is best suited to be a designated hitter right now. After Wednesday night's game, Pablo Sandoval got bad news. 

The Giants released Sandoval on Thursday, the team announced, clearing the way for Smoak to join the roster. Smoak and left-hander Drew Smyly were added later in the day with right-hander Rico Garcia getting optioned to open up a second roster spot. 

MLB Network's Jon Heyman first reported the news.

The Giants are facing four right-handed pitchers in San Diego and could use a slugger who had 19 homers against lefties last season but thus far has struggled this year. Even with Smoak's issues getting going in Milwaukee, he looks to be at least a small upgrade over Sandoval, who was hitting just .220 in 33 appearances with one homer and one double. The .268 slugging percentage was the lowest of Sandoval's career by nearly 100 points. 

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Sandoval's 11-year run in San Francisco is nearly certainly over for good this time. He left for Boston after the 2014 World Series but returned in 2017 and became a surprise contributor off the bench while reclaiming his fan favorite status. Even the new staff became enamored with Sandoval, and manager Gabe Kapler was excited to bring him in after meeting with him in Miami in the offseason. 

 

Sandoval sent Kapler regular video updates as he returned from Tommy John surgery, and the delay in the season allowed him to be ready for opening day. But Sandoval never found his swing, and he dealt with off-field concerns, with his wife and children contracting COVID-19.