Pablo Sandoval plays role of Giants' director of recruiting in offseason


Pablo Sandoval plays role of Giants' director of recruiting in offseason

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the surface, it appears that the Giants are getting a bunch of old Padres together. Drew Pomeranz. Rene Rivera. Yangervis Solarte. Cameron Maybin.

Put perhaps the real link among most the free agent additions is a player who has years of experience facing the Padres.

Solarte, who checked into camp Sunday, said he spent the offseason working out with Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval at the Bommarito gym in Miami. Parra and Rivera also worked out there, along with Dereck Rodriguez, Sandoval’s prized recruit last offseason. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval encouraged him to add his workout partners, all of whom are here on minor league deals, as Rodriguez was last spring.

“He was in my ear. Pablo was in my ear,” Bochy said. “We had the (Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards) three weeks ago, but even before that I talked to him and he said he was working with those guys and they’re available.”

Of all the players added recently, Solarte might have the best odds of making the team. He hit 17 homers last season and can play all four infield spots as well as left field, and that could make him a good partner for Sandoval as backup infielders. 

Even with a strong track record, Solarte, 31, had to wait until February to find a job. He said he doesn’t mind that it didn’t come with a starter designation. He knows he’ll get plenty of time if he makes the team.

Asked about the state of free agency, he used a common phrase, except in Spanish: "He who laughs last, laughs best," he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. 

“You all are aware of the situation with free agents, and just like you guys talk about it, we think about it," Solarte told reporters. "I knew that eventually I would be on a team."

Sandoval hoped all along that it would be the Giants, in part because it'll be a reunion. He played Little League with Solarte in Venezuela, and later they played with Parra on a youth national team.

Sandoval enjoys being Director of Recruiting, but at times he didn't need to say much. He said Solarte, Parra and Rivera all liked the Giants already, having played at Oracle Park and faced the Giants while in the division with other teams. 

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Still, at times there were questions, and Sandoval was happy to answer them. He said the Giants have added good players, but also personalities that will enhance the clubhouse. 

"These guys are going to have fun," Sandoval said. "We're loose and we're going to have fun here, but the team is also going to respect the game and play it the right way."

Kevin Pillar emotional on Toronto return for first time since trade to Giants

Kevin Pillar emotional on Toronto return for first time since trade to Giants

Kevin Pillar started against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre in what he eventually admitted was an emotionally charged event for him.

Up until being traded to the Giants, Pillar spent his entire career as a member of the Toronto organization -- and they more than made him feel back at home.

The crowd had signs wishing him love, the Jays dedicated a video tribute to him, and the home crowd cheered when he went out on to the field -- even giving him a standing ovation. He made sure to wave and give his thanks to the fans who stuck by him all of those years. 

Following the Giants' 7-6 win, Pillar spoke to the media and talked about the many emotions going on:

"To come back and see the genuine appreciation that people have," Pillar told reporters. "The video tribute was a really nice touch."

[RELATED: Watch Pillar receive ovation from Jays fans]

Pillar found out about the tribute a few days prior, and he mentioned how he did his best to keep his composure, despite him being a very emotional guy.

Watch Kevin Pillar get ovation from Blue Jays fans in Toronto return

Watch Kevin Pillar get ovation from Blue Jays fans in Toronto return

Kevin Pillar never won any awards or championships during his seven years with the Blue Jays, but he definitely won over the hearts of Toronto fans with his highlight-reel catches.

So when the Giants center fielder went out to play defense in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night, Blue Jays fans showed their appreciation for the 30-year-old.

It was a pretty emotional moment. We're sure Pillar was choking back tears as he watched the tribute video and tipped his cap to the fans.

The love for Pillar didn't stop there. When he came up for his first at-bat in the top of the second inning, the Blue Jays fans once again gave him a standing ovation.

But the cheering ended quickly as Pillar singled to left field and drove in Pablo Sandoval to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

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Pillar and Crawford would later score on a Joe Panik double to right.

Not a bad homecoming for the Toronto fan favorite.