How Bruce Bochy, Pablo Sandoval built father-son relationship with Giants

How Bruce Bochy, Pablo Sandoval built father-son relationship with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat in his office at the end of the last homestand and groaned as he wondered what to do with a struggling lineup. 

"You know," he said, "We really miss Pablo."

Bochy said the exact same thing last September as the Giants went into a tailspin without several of their bigger bats. He has always appreciated Sandoval's aggression at the plate, but more than that, he appreciates his passion and energy. He lights up when discussing how Sandoval simply loves the game and wants to be in the lineup no matter the situation. 

The two have formed a special bond, one so deep that Sandoval calls Bochy a father figure and honored him this January at the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards. 

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Sandoval, then, was the perfect choice to kick off this series, in which five Giants who were around for the World Series years talk about the evolution of their relationship with a manager who will call it a career this Sunday

NBC Sports Bay Area: Do you remember the first time you met Bochy and your first impression of him? 
Pablo Sandoval: "It was in 2008, August 13, in Houston, that I got the call-up to the big leagues. I was surprised that I was in the big leagues and playing for one of the greatest managers. I knew for me it was going to be special to be part of it. He told me that he knew I was a funny guy. I know I was a rookie at the time but I was the loudest guy in the clubhouse and tried to keep everybody loose and he told me just one thing: 'Be you. I just want you to play your game and play the game the right way.'"

How has your relationship with Bochy evolved over the years? 
"I always say that the relationship is special, it's like a father and son. You play nine years for him and there are ups and downs like a roller coaster. He had to pull my ear sometimes and get on me, when I was doing bad or did something wrong. He was on me but I learned a lot of things from him. I learned how to play the game the right way."

What has made him such a successful manager?
"What makes him so good is that he puts the right piece in at the right time. He makes a different lineup every day, he puts the right pitcher in the right situation, he's not afraid to pull a guy up from the bench. Where else do you see a reserve take 350 at-bats? He gives a chance to every player to be happy and he keeps his team happy. That's why we've had great runs in the postseason."

Do you have a favorite memory with Bochy? 
"Yeah, 2010, 2012 and 2014. Those are the great memories that I have, just winning the World Series. And we've had plenty of times just sitting and talking. I love talking to the guy. He's a smart guy and he loves his family and we've talked about a lot of those things. I love the things he tells me."

Have there been times when you didn't see eye to eye? 
"I always respected him. Like I said, I don't want to yell at my father! I wouldn't yell at my dad. I always respected him. It's part of the game that you're going to fight it out but you have to suck it in. He's one of those guys you have to respect. I always respected him and when something happened, I always respected it. I earned it (when I got in trouble). There were a couple times I wasn't running the bases the right way in 2011 and he pulled me out. I knew I wasn't doing great running the bases. He pulled me out and I always respected that."

What's something fans don't know about him?
"The love he has for this game. He's the type of guy who doesn't show too much, but he's got a big heart, he's a big-hearted guy. He doesn't want to show it to people but I want people to know he's got a big heart and he loves every player in this room."

Do you think he will manage again?
"I don't know. I hope yes, I hope yes. Because I don't know how he's going to handle sitting at home!"

Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

Giants veterans would be greatly impacted by MLB's proposal to players

This is a short week for most workers in the United States, but for the two sides trying to get baseball back on the field, these could be their longest days of the year. 

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are trying to come to an agreement on a deal that could put players back on the field in July, but Tuesday's developments weren't positive. According to multiple reports, the proposal that MLB made Tuesday included a significant cut for the highest-paid players. The two sides already had agreed to a deal that prorates salaries, although MLB maintains that the financial situation has changed since it has become clear fans won't be allowed into games, significantly limiting revenue. 

The proposal was met with immediate backlash, with just about every national reporter tweeting that the union was disappointed and discouraged. It's easy to see why. Such a deal would have a huge impact on some of the game's biggest stars, including members of the Giants organization. 

Having missed out on Bryce Harper, the Giants don't have anyone in those highest price ranges. But they do have six players on contracts that were supposed to pay them at least $10 million this year -- including Buster Posey and Johnny Cueto above $20 million -- and 14 who would have made more than $1 million.

Most of their veterans would be taking a big cut. Jeff Samardzija, for instance, was supposed to make just under $20 million in the final year of his five-year contract. Per that proposal, he would instead play this season for just about $5 million. Cueto, who signed a few days after Samardzija, was due $21 million this year; the proposal cuts that to a little more than $5 million.  

MLB's proposal would benefit players making closer to the minimum of $563,500, just about making them whole on a prorated basis, and it does a sneaky job of potentially pitting different factions of the union against one another. But for a team like the Giants, just about everyone would be harshly impacted. There are players like Mike Yastrzemski, Mauricio Dubon and Logan Webb still breaking in, but the majority of the set roster has already gotten into arbitration years or signed lucrative free agent contracts. 

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What's the next step? Well, it doesn't sound like MLB is ready to back down at all:

Everyone knew this would be a nasty negotiation, and Tuesday's developments provided a reminder of just how much ground there still is to cover before players can start booking those flights to Spring Training 2.0. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

Why Giants will have to make even faster evaluations if MLB returns

One thing fans learned right away in Farhan Zaidi's first season in charge is that the new-look front office is remarkably fast when it comes to altering the roster. The Giants could move even faster in 2020, though. 

If the season returns in July as hoped, the Giants expect to play 82 games, meaning the long six-month grind is now a bit of a sprint to the finish line. That will have a big impact on roster moves, and during his last appearance on KNBR, manager Gabe Kapler said the staff is already discussing how to handle this, knowing they don't have nearly as much time to evaluate players. 

"We don't necessarily have 82 games to evaluate that and then have another 82 to put the best defense out there," he said. "We actually have to make decisions sooner, we have to evaluate better in this modified camp that we have coming up. So the 82-game schedule absolutely makes us think about the roster construction differently and also about game strategy differently, for sure."

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Kapler mentioned that one discussion going on right now is about center field and right, and which players will be the best options. Even though it might have seemed like Gerardo Parra got a quick hook last year, he did actually play 30 games before being designated for assignment. Yangervis Solarte, another veteran, lasted until May 7.

The Giants seemed set to take a long look at Billy Hamilton this year and potentially break with Darin Ruf in the mix, but if they're looking to stay in the NL West race over half a season, perhaps they'll lean more towards sticking Mike Yastrzemski or Mauricio Dubon in center every day, guaranteeing more consistency for the lineup. 

Dubon is also part of the flip side of this. The front office hoped to give some younger players a few hundred at-bats to sink or swim, but that's not really possible with 82 games. If Dubon struggles early on to stick in his new utility role, that experiment might be halted until 2021. Jaylin Davis might have started the season in Triple-A, but the Giants now won't have that option, and they could run Davis out there every day in right field. But they certainly wouldn't have as many at-bats to play with if Davis gets off to a slow start. 

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The rotation will be impacted, too. Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly have been viewed as potential 2020 versions of Drew Pomeranz, but Pomeranz struggled quite a bit before he was moved to the bullpen, where he became a good trade chip. That first relief appearance, though, didn't come until the Giants had played 101 games. There won't be nearly as much time to evaluate the pitchers who came in on one-year contracts. 

There are going to be a lot of wrinkles to an 82-game season, and this is an added one. The Giants made quick evaluations last season compared to what fans have gotten used to, but they're still going to need to pick up the pace if the game returns.