Bruce Bochy

Giants manager Bruce Bochy tells hilarious Pablo Sandoval stories

Giants manager Bruce Bochy tells hilarious Pablo Sandoval stories

Editor's note: The 2019 Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards airs Sunday at 7 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

Bruce Bochy was unable to attend the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards on Wednesday night when Pablo Sandoval honored the Giants manager for the life-changing impact he's had on him. 

As Bochy attended his son's wedding, he still found a way to video his message of gratitude to Sandoval. In doing so, the manager turned into a bit of a comedian. 

"I am so deeply honored by Pablo naming me his Game Changer," Bochy said to begin his speech. "It is what it's all about, the relationships. It's something that I will always remember because we do have a special relationship.

"As I look back to 2008, Felipe Alou kept telling me about this pudgy kid down in A-ball, what a good ballplayer he was and what an impact player he's gonna be." 

Sandoval joined the Giants in August and made an immediate impact. He hit .345 in 41 games played, showing elite potential at the plate. Bochy believes he would have won Rookie of the Year in 2009 if it weren't for him having too many at-bats the year before and the numbers agree with the manager: .300 with 25 home runs and a .943 OPS. 

In 2010, Sandoval was a massive disappointment as the Giants were seeking their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco. He hit just .268 with 13 home runs and led the league by hitting into 26 double plays. Even as he lost his starting job in the postseason, though, he still earned Bochy's respect. 

"2010, we had a little hiccup. We made a change there in the postseason, and Pablo really showed what he's all about" Bochy said. "He was a role player and did what he could to help, but he really learned from that. That's what I really love about this man -- how he handles everything thrown at him and how mature he's become." 

That comedy portion of Bochy's speech really started in spring training of 2014, Sandoval's last season with the Giants before he returned in 2017. The World Baseball Classic was that year, and the third baseman was determined to play.

"He really wanted to represent Venezuela. Well I had to give him some tough love because he put this pretty good sized winter coat on that year and we had to get him to lose some weight," Bochy said with a laugh as Sandoval smile and shook his head. "I said, 'Pablo, you can't play in it. We gotta get this weight off ya.' I'm talkin' about 20 pounds.

"This World Baseball Classic was eight days away. Well seven days later he steps on the scale and this man had lost over 20 pounds. I still don't know how he did it. The point being, that's how much he wanted to represent his country, that's how much he wanted to play the game. That says a lot about him." 

Even when Sandoval spurned San Francisco for Boston before the 2015 season, Bochy kept a soft spot for him. When the Red Sox released him in July of 2017 after a forgettable time in Bean Town, Bochy wanted him back with the Giants. 

"I think he realized he left his heart in San Francisco," Bochy said. "He came back as even a different man because now he's a role player, and good players, good teammates, they're willing to set aside their own agenda and do what's best for the club. He showed up with about four different gloves, He had a catcher's mitt, a first baseman's mitt, a third baseman's mitt, an outfielder's glove ... I said, 'you put the outfielder's glove away though Pablo.' That one's not gonna happen." 

Sandoval won't see any time in the outfield for the Giants, but in 2018 he played third base, first base, second base, DH, and even pitched a hitless inning. The two-time All-Star and World Series MVP is now a player willing to do anything for the team, in any role.

As Sandoval watched Bochy tell how much he's meant to him, even at the expense of some jokes and funny stories, one thing never wavered -- Pablo's smile.  

"He's just been a joy for me," Bochy said. 

Pablo Sandoval to honor Bruce Bochy, manager who always had his back

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Pablo Sandoval to honor Bruce Bochy, manager who always had his back

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval burned his share of bridges when he left the Giants for the Red Sox in 2014, but his conversation with his manager that offseason carried a different kind of emotion.

Sandoval still remembers how hard it was to tell Bochy he was leaving. He told Bochy he would miss him. Bochy responded by telling Sandoval he wished he was returning.

"He said, 'Enjoy your moment. This is the time you've been waiting for,'" Sandoval recalled recently. 

Three years later, Bochy was there waiting when Sandoval decided to come back. 

Sandoval's career with the Giants will go down as one of the more interesting in franchise history, full of highs (All-Star appearances, World Series titles, a performance that dropped Justin Verlander's jaw) and lows (getting benched, repeatedly dealing with weight issues, downtimes on the field and that exit to Boston), but through it all, he has had his manager in his corner.

He views Bochy as someone who has always been fair with him and has always communicated with him in the right way, and tonight he'll honor his longtime manager. 

Sandoval has chosen to recognize Bochy at the Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards. Now in its fifth year, the Game Changer Awards honor coaches who have had a noteworthy impact on the lives of some of the biggest stars in the Bay Area.

For Sandoval, this relationship goes beyond a player and coach. 

"I tell him, 'You're my father.' I always tell him that," Sandoval said. "I love him and I wish him a nice end to his career, and I wish that I can be there when he retires. I want him to be my manager when I retire from baseball."

Four years ago, it didn't appear that was possible. 

In his first spring with the Red Sox, Sandoval gave a stunning interview with Bleacher Report in which he said it was "not hard at all" to leave the team that signed him out of Venezuela and questioned the way the Giants treated him. The most eye-opening quote came when Sandoval was asked if he missed the Giants. 

"Only Bochy," he said at the time. "I love Boch. He's like my dad. He's the only guy that I miss. And Hunter Pence. Just those guys."

The quotes made waves in his old clubhouse, and when Sandoval found himself looking for a job just two and a half seasons into that massive contract, a reunion seemed unlikely. There were players who were not ready to welcome him back, and executives high up in the organization who were not on board with the move. Sandoval knew that, and on his first day back, he walked into Bochy's office and told him he knew what he had to do. 

"I came to Bochy and said, 'You know what, I need to apologize to you,'" Sandoval said 

The redemption tour quickly gained steam. Sandoval moved past those comments quickly, again bringing energy to a clubhouse that needed it and earning a role as a valuable reserve. When he pitched a perfect inning against the Dodgers last April, Sandoval was all the way back to his former status as a favorite of much of the fan base. Bochy was looking for a way to shake things up in the midst of a blowout that day. He knew exactly which player to send to the mound. 

From his first day in Bochy's clubhouse, Sandoval has stood out because of his energy and enthusiasm for the game. Bochy says it is infectious, and something that has never waned through two tours with the Giants. 

"That's what I love about Pablo, his passion for the game," Bochy said. "To me, that can be a difference-maker for a club, it really can. Chemistry is such an important part of the game, too. We're always looking at the talent, but the talent can come together and gel if you have the right guys in the clubhouse. You get guys to enjoy the game and just play the game for the love of it, and that's the type of player that he is. There have been times that he's been on the DL and players miss him. They miss him in the dugout, they miss him around the clubhouse."

Bochy said that repeatedly down the stretch last season, when Sandoval was sidelined by a major hamstring injury. With his team on an 11-game losing streak, Bochy sat in his office one Friday last September and wondered aloud what he was supposed to do.

The Giants simply did not have the talent to compete with the teams Bochy was seeing every night. As he talked through solutions, Sandoval walked into his office, a wrap on his injured leg but a bat in his hand. He smacked the bat against a door and promised his manager that the Giants would win that night. 

"We miss him," Bochy said, a few hours before the Giants edged the Rockies to snap the streak. 

[RELATED: Klay Thompson to honor high school coach]

Sandoval felt the same way about Bochy when he was gone, and he said the manager was one of the main reasons he returned to San Francisco. Sandoval credits Bochy for helping him be himself in the big leagues, constantly reminding him to have fun, but also to respect the game and play it the right way. In the down times, Bochy has always been there with a lesson. In the good times, Sandoval looks at his manager and simply sees an approving smile. 

"I try to remind myself how difficult the game is, and when a guy is going through a tough patch, that's when they need you," Bochy said. "That's when they need support. If you make an impact on a player that's struggling and you can help them, that's what it's about. That's what the game is about."

MLB rumors: Troy Tulowitzki, Yankees agree to league-minimum contract

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MLB rumors: Troy Tulowitzki, Yankees agree to league-minimum contract

Troy Tulowitzki reportedly won't be coming home to the Bay Area after all.

Tulowitzki, who grew up in Sunnyvale, agreed to a deal with the New York Yankees, ESPN's Jeff Passan reported on Tuesday. 

The Toronto Blue Jays released the 34-year-old shortstop during the MLB Winter Meetings last month. Tulowitzki missed all of last season dealing with various injuries, but the Giants were interested as soon as he became available.

"Good minimum-salaried players are worth a phone call. How about that?" Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told reporters at the winter meetings in Las Vegas. 

Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy reportedly attended Tulowitzki's free-agent showcase on Dec. 18, as the Giants continued to explore finding a right-handed bat to platoon with second baseman Joe Panik.

Now, San Francisco will continue to direct its attention elsewhere. The Giants are reportedly interested in bringing in utility infielder Josh Harrison, a two-time All-Star and a right-handed bat. 

Although Tulowitzki grew up an A's fan, Oakland reportedly did not reach out to the shortstop despite having a need in the middle infield. The A's acquired infielder Jurickson Profar on Dec. 21, and NBC Sports California's Ben Ross reported that the green and gold were close to moving on from All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie.