Giants

Pablo Sandoval thankful for second chance with Giants after Red Sox stint

Pablo Sandoval thankful for second chance with Giants after Red Sox stint

After helping the Giants win the 2014 World Series -- the franchise's third title in five seasons -- Pablo Sandoval left the Bay Area to sign a massive contract with the Boston Red Sox. But it wasn't the happy marriage he envisioned.

Sandoval struggled with injuries during his time in Boston, never living up to the five-year, $95 million contract the Red Sox gave him. It came to a head in 2017, when the Red Sox decided it was in their best interest to cut Sandoval -- believing his career to be all but over -- and eat the remaining $49.5 million left on the deal. 

After the Red Sox kicked him to the curb, Sandoval was labeled one of the biggest free-agent busts in recent history. That was a blow to the third baseman's ego.

"Being let go by the Red Sox hurt, especially because I was coming back from an injury and going through so many things in my life," Sandoval told ESPN's Marly Rivera. "I am a person who loves this sport. This is my passion. Besides my family, there is nothing I love more, and baseball has given me many blessings.

"But I also put in a lot of work and made many sacrifices, and I wasn't ready to leave the game. I wanted to prove to everyone, especially my children and my family, and set the example for my children, that in spite of the things that may happen to you, you always have to fight on."

Despite being cut by the Red Sox, blasted by the Boston media and fan base for his weight and lack of performance, Sandoval used his time in Boston as a way to grow.

"Being in Boston was a learning experience," Sandoval said. "The truth is that it was a great organization, and I have nothing against [the Red Sox]. And the fans, they are demanding, they want to see their players contribute. They want to see the best of them. And I learned from that."

Once he was cast aside by the Red Sox, Sandoval was hoping for one more chance to prove he still could hack it at the big league level. Of course, the Giants and manager Bruce Bochy still believed in him. They agreed to bring him back, but with the understanding that he was coming back to a different role on a different Giants team than the one he had left. 

"It was a learning opportunity because I had to start from scratch, forget what I had accomplished in the past and now try to do something different and accept a new role [as a bench player]," Sandoval told Rivera. "That has been difficult for me, to accept that role after playing every day or wanting to be an everyday player.

"But I am enjoying myself to the fullest. And I do that with a lot of love for those people who are in that office, that from the first they opened the doors to me."

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Sandoval adapted to his new role and has started to thrive once again with the Giants. This season he is slashing .269/.314/.509 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI, while playing an important role in helping the Giants make a push for the playoffs.

The veteran third baseman is thankful the Giants and Bochy believed in him and gave him one more chance to shine in the Bay.

"Despite all the things that I'd went through, the Giants always trusted me and they gave me the blessing of returning home. I am trying to make the best out of this second chance," Sandoval told ESPN.

"I think [Bochy] has been a very important factor in me being here today. He has always fought for me and put his feet to the fire for me, and I know I owe this second chance to him, and I love giving it all for him in what will be his final year."

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

Four Giants have chance to hit 20 home runs for first time in years

SAN FRANCISCO -- The NL's 40 Home Run Club got crowded last week, with Cody Bellinger hitting the mark first, followed by Christian Yelich and Pete Alonso, who broke the NL record for a rookie. That mark was just two years old and was set by Bellinger. 

Ronald Acuña Jr. (35) and Eugenio Suarez (34) should get to 40 soon, and six other NL sluggers are already at 30 with six weeks left in the season. It's been that kind of year, but the Giants have more modest goals. 

They haven't even had a hitter reach 20 since Brandon Crawford went deep 21 times in 2015, but this should be the year a Giant ends that powerless run. In fact, it should happen easily, and multiple players could get to 20. 

The Giants haven't had multiple guys hit 20 since 2014, when good friends Buster Posey and Hunter Pence did it, and they haven't had three get there since 2006, when Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, Ray Durham and Pedro Feliz all hit at least 20. 

Here are three with a good shot at ending the organization's drought, and one wild card:

Kevin Pillar

Currently the team leader at 17, Pillar already has set his career-high. He said last week that the lineup has to keep the same approach day in and day out and take advantage of the rewards that ballparks like Chase Field provide, but Pillar has actually done plenty of damage at home. He has 10 homers at Oracle Park, four more than any other Giant. 

Pillar is streaky, but his pull power works well at home and he plays every day. The odds are high that he becomes the first Giants outfielder since Pence in 2014 to hit 20 homers, and the next guy should join him ...

Mike Yastrzemski

The rookie has become the best story of the season, and with three homers on Friday night he got up to 16, one more than he ever hit in a minor league season. Yastrzemski's power is for real; he has 28 homers across two levels this season, has hit six out of Oracle Park, and distributes his blasts to all fields.

With two more, Yastrzemski will tie Buster Posey's mark as a rookie. The Giants haven't had a rookie hit 20 homers since Dave Kingman in 1972. Their rookie record is 31, set by Jim Ray Hart in 1964. That'll be out of reach for Yastrzemski, but he should easily get to 20. He already has 11 homers in the second half. 

Evan Longoria

The third baseman has 15, but he missed time with a foot strain and remains slightly hampered by the injury. Still, Longoria has two homers since returning and has a shot at his 10th 20-homer season in the big leagues. 

With Pablo Sandoval out, Longoria is no longer in a timeshare, although he'll want to take advantage of road trips like this one. Of Longoria's 15 homers, 12 have come away from Oracle Park, where he's hitting just .215. 

Brandon Belt

A wild card, because he only has 14 but has traditionally gone on runs where he hits four or five in a week. Belt hasn't really gotten hot this season, but he hit a pair of homers over the weekend after a talk with Bruce Bochy and a move down in the lineup.

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It would take a hot streak to get him to 20, but Belt has gotten close before. He has a pair of 18-homer seasons and two with 17. 

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

Giants miss out on sweep ahead of huge series vs. Cubs at Wrigley Field

PHOENIX -- On days like this, Giants manager Bruce Bochy often says "you like to get greedy." Madison Bumgarner nodded as those words were repeated to him Sunday afternoon.

The Giants took three of four in Phoenix, which was good work given their spot in the NL wild-card race. They moved a game ahead of the Diamondbacks, one of many teams they're battling for two spots. But it was hard not to feel a bit disappointed given that they went into the fourth game with Bumgarner on the mound and lost 6-1

"We'll leave here feeling good because we did take three of four from a team we're chasing. We keep doing that, I think we'll be okay," Bumgarner said. "But at the same time, everyone here -- especially me -- wanted to come away with a sweep."

The Giants had not lost with Bumgarner on the mound in nearly five weeks. The lefty hadn't taken a loss on his record since June 20. But the Diamondbacks scored three in the first and got four in six innings against Bumgarner.

There were two key plays in the loss, one on defense and one at the plate.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the first, Adam Jones hit a sinking liner to center that looked like a hit off the bat. But Kevin Pillar has made a habit of coming out of nowhere for a diving catch, and he got a good break on the ball, which had a hit probability of 73 percent. 

Pillar's diving effort came up about two inches short and the Diamondbacks scored a pair. Jones would score on a single. 

"He makes a lot of unbelievable catches and I want him to try to do that," Bumgarner said. "I was glad to see he tried to go for it instead of trying to play it on a bounce. I like the aggressive play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't in this game."

The Giants had a chance to get back into the game in the sixth when Mike Yastrzemski tripled and a single and two walks loaded the bases. The Diamondbacks brought lefty Andrew Chafin in to face Brandon Crawford, who had five hits in 19 previous at-bats against Chafin.

Bochy had Evan Longoria on the bench and could have pinch-hit the righty while sliding Donovan Solano from third to short, but he stuck with Crawford, who is batting .224 on the season and came out early on a double-switch the other night. Crawford grounded out. 

"His numbers aren't bad off (Chafin). It's two outs and I'm trying to stay away from Longo," Bochy said. "Hey, he's gotten a lot of big hits for us. I'm not going to quit on him now."

The finale was rough, but the weekend was still a good one for the Giants. Their problem right now is that good may not be enough. Two of the teams they’re chasing won while the Giants were on the field. They’ll now visit the Cubs, who occupy the second wild-card spot.  

The Giants will go with Tyler Beede, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field this week. They'll face Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. 

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"They're all big. We've got to win games. We're the ones who are behind," Bochy said. "It was a good series. You come in here and take three out of four, you've got to feel good about that. We lost this one but you take three out of four, you'll take that.

"We'll head to Chicago, take a day off and regroup, and it's going to be another big series."