SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy had four words for Pablo Sandoval when he walked down the Giants' dugout steps at Oracle Park: "It's been a joy."
It was a bittersweet moment for player and manager. Bochy entered his final month as a MLB manager on Sunday, while Sandoval entered the great unknown.
Sandoval will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, ending his season and possibly his career with the Giants as he enters free agency this upcoming offseason. Before he goes under the knife, though, Bochy sent Sandoval to the plate one last time to pinch-hit for pitcher Sam Coonrod in the bottom of the seventh inning against Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo, in what wound up being an 8-4 loss for San Francisco.
The result was a grondout to third baseman Manny Machado. The moment was much larger. Giants fans rose to their feet, giving Sandoval a rousing ovation.
Standing ovation for Pablo after grounding out in possibly his last at-bat ever with the Giants pic.twitter.com/fHcZKWAXWS— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) September 1, 2019
When asked after the game what was going through his mind, Sandoval let his emotions out after 10 seasons in San Francisco.
"Everything," Sandoval said before lowering his head in attempt to shield his tears. "I wanted to cry in that moment but I hold on to it. It's great, it's great when you feel the love from the fans."
Sandoval wasn't the only one who was honored by the Giants on Sunday either. The start of September kicked off the final month of the regular season, one in which the team will honor Bochy. Early in the game, a banner was unveiled on the left-field wall that read, "Thank You Boch!"
The gesture was a surprise to fans and players alike.
"He's like a dad to me," Sandoval said when asked about Bochy. "This guy is special. He's done a lot of things for this organization, for this city. This is just one of the things that you're gonna see. He earned that. He's won three World Series. That means a lot for everyone."
Bochy is used to the festivities by now. Everywhere he goes this season is a farewell tour, which usually includes a whole lot of wine as a going away gift. This month will be different in front of the home fans, though.
While his focus is still leading the Giants to wins, Bochy admitted the banner made him emotional. It was also another sign that his time has almost run out.
"It's another reminder this is my last month," Bochy said.
To Bochy, however, this day belonged to Sandoval. There's been ups and downs with The Panda in San Francisco. He's been a World Series hero and hailed as a villain when he skipped town to sign a lucrative contract with the Red Sox and spoke negatively about nearly every Giant aside from his manager.
Through it all, however, he's captivated a fan base like only a handful of others have.
"I think you look at what he's done, how he plays, his love for the game. That comes out every time he comes to the ballpark, and I think they appreciate that," Bochy said. "Of course, there's his talent. What he's done here, what he's meant for this organization. They were showing their appreciation, so yeah, he's right up there [with the most captivating Giants]."
Bochy and Sandoval have been together for nearly a decade now. Their bond has grown through good and bad, just like any other family. But Sandoval left his impression with those that have been a Giant for a much shorter amount of time, too.
Outfielder Kevin Pillar was traded from the Blue Jays to the Giants in April, and Sandoval welcomed him to the clubhouse with open arms.
"I met a great friend here," Pillar said when asked about Sandoval. "He's been great to me. My locker was a couple over and as bodies came in and out of here, he asked me to be next to him and I don't take that lightly. It's been great getting the opportunity to get to know him and share stories with him, and I'm praying for him."
Whatever the future holds for Pablo Sandoval, he rightfully will forever be a Giant.