Happy, healthy Pablo Sandoval willing to do anything for Giants

Happy, healthy Pablo Sandoval willing to do anything for Giants

Signed by the San Francisco Giants at 16 years old, Pablo Sandoval's career has taken every twist and turn. 

The burly third baseman burst on the scene with a .330 batting average and 25 home runs in his first full season as a Giant back in 2009, looking like a future star. As the Giants pushed for their first title since moving from New York the next season though, Sandoval only played in one World Series game. 

And then he was an All-Star in 2011 and a hero in 2012, becoming the fourth player in MLB history to swat three home runs in one World Series game. He declined the next two seasons, and then left the Bay for Boston, leaving San Francisco with a sour taste in the mouths of Giants fans. 

After hitting bottom on the baseball field in Boston, Sandoval returned home last season and has that old smile that made Giants fans love him. While he is far from All-Star form, Sandoval is loving every second and reminding everyone what really made him a fan favorite. 

There is no better example than when Sandoval stepped on the mound at AT&T Park in a blowout loss and threw a perfect 1-2-3 inning against the Dodgers on April 28. 

"It's one of those things, when you got a new role you have to be prepared for anything," Sandoval said to KNBR on Wednesday. "I come to the field every day early to do a lot of work. That's one of those things that they put on my mind last year when I get here and this year when they said this is gonna be your role.

"It's a challenge for me, so I want to beat those challenges."

Sandoval says it wasn't as hard for him to go from former Fall Classic hero to now a bench player for the Giants as the outside world perceives. He acknowledges he had to grow and believes he's at that point in his life.

"When you go through ups and downs in your career, you learn a lot of things. You have to be more mature to accept things," Sandoval said. "I learned those things in my career. Now I'm here happy, healthy."

Throughout the interview, Sandoval looked to get past questions about his days in Boston and his first rocky breakup with the Giants. To stay more positive, he repeated, "If you're happy playing baseball, keep playing baseball." The Panda looked more than happy showing off his fastball-changeup-curveball arsenal against the Dodgers. Pitching for the first time since he was 11 years old, Sandoval touched 88 mph with his fastball and dropped down to a nasty 69 mph with his curve.

If he touches the mound again for the Giants is a question he and Bruce Bochy can't answer quite yet. But Sandoval made it clear, he's willing do anything for the club that's handed him much more than one chance. 

"Like I told Bochy, whenever you need me, I'm going to be there. No matter what. Pitching, catching, short, second, outfield, manager one day, coach, third base... whatever you need me to do, I'm gonna do it."

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

[RELATED: Giants top prospect Bart awarded for impressive spring]

Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made. 

San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident


San Francisco Mayor London Breed wants accountability in Larry Baer incident

San Francisco Mayor London Breed issued a statement Monday calling on Major League Baseball to issue sanctions on Giants CEO Larry Baer over a March 1 incident involving his wife, Pam.

“When the incident first occurred involving Larry Baer and his wife, the San Francisco Police Department immediately began an investigation,” Breed said in the statement posted on her website. "That investigation is ongoing, but regardless of the outcome, Major League Baseball needs to send a message that any and all acts of violence against women is unacceptable.

"The letter written by several respected women leaders in our domestic violence community echoes an all too familiar reality where incidents involving violence against women are not met with true accountability. While Mr. Baer has apologized and expressed remorse for his behavior, it does not excuse his actions and it does not erase what transpired. Mr. Baer’s actions were serious and wrong. We are a City that loves and supports our San Francisco Giants, and that means holding our organization and its leaders to the highest of standards.

“Every little girl, every woman should be able to attend a Giants game with a clear sense of the organization’s values. I share in the call to action by the women who have written the Commissioner calling for greater accountability. There must be a stronger public reaction and response to violence against women in our City and our country.”

The letter that Breed references in her statement came from a dozen San Francisco community leaders, who wrote to MLB that they’d like to see Baer disciplined. The San Francisco Chronicle cited portions of the letter, which told MLB their stance is about “… the responsibility that you, as well as the board and executive leadership of the Giants organization, have to fairly enforce MLB policy, as you would had it been a major league player in that video, rather than a high-profile CEO.”

MLB issued a statement on the day of the incident, saying: “Major League Baseball is aware of the incident and, just like any other situation like this, will immediately begin to gather the facts. We will have no further comment until this process is completed.” MLB has not commented since then.

The San Francisco district attorney’s office told the Chronicle on March 8 it hadn’t decided if charges should be filed and that police had been investigating the situation.