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!"