After a shoulder strain all but erased his 2016 campaign, Pablo Sandoval's disappointing tenure with the Red Sox ended when Boston released him last July. Sandoval reunited with the Giants, and despite another poor showing overall, he hit .385/.390/.744 with three homers in the final 11 games. The switch-hitter has struggled against lefties since his first tenure with San Francisco came to an end -- he has just one big fly against them in his last two full seasons (207 at-bats). Maybe being another year removed from his health woes will help freshen up his swing, but any small possibility for preseason excitement was deflated when the Giants acquired third baseman Evan Longoria. Backing up Brandon Belt at first base looks like Sandoval's best avenue for playing time if he remains on the roster in San Francisco.
Sandoval is close to being locked in for the Giants' 25-man roster, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. This move shouldn't come as a big surprise, as the Panda's ability to back up Evan Longoria at third as well as Brandon Belt at first makes him a suitable pick for a backup role this season. Sandoval has made the decision easier for manager Bruce Bochy by batting .346 (9-for-26) with a home run and eight RBI this spring.
Sandoval claims that his ailing left shoulder is fully healthy heading into spring training, Chris Haft of MLB.com reports. Following the acquisition of Evan Longoria, the "Kung Fu Panda" is tabbed for a bench role with the Giants. That said, if he truly is healthy for this season, Sandoval could prove to be a decent bat off the bench for San Francisco. Although he batted just .220 between the Giants and the Red Sox last season, he does possess a .283/.334/.446 slash line in his career. A switch hitter with that kind of slash line coming off the bench doesn't come around that often, although fantasy owners should still be wary given his playing time situation and his disappointing performance over the past three years.
Sandoval's team option was picked up by the Giants on Monday, Andrew Baggarly of The San Jose Mercury News reports. After returning to San Francisco during the second half of the 2017 season, Sandoval hit a bleak .225/.263/.367 over 47 games. With Sandoval's performance leaving much to be desired, a reserve role seems likely for the 31-year-old if he sticks on the team's 25-man roster out of spring training.
Sandoval went 2-for-4 with a walk-off home run in Sunday's win over the Padres. Sandoval's struggles in Boston are well-documented -- while it wasn't all roses since returning to San Francisco, he wrapped up the 2017 campaign with an impressive 11-game stretch (.385/.390/.744 with three homers and 12 RBI). It is unclear whether the 31-year-old's late push was enough to put himself in the team's 2018 plans.
Sandoval batted third and went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBI in Wednesday's loss to Arizona. Hunter Pence and Buster Posey got the day off, so Sandoval was asked to carry the offense Wednesday. He was up to the task, but it was all for naught after the bullpen squandered another late-inning lead. Despite the Giants' ongoing woes, the corner infielder has been trending in the right direction over his last eight games, batting .407 (11-for-27) with six extra-base hits and nine RBI over that span. Sandoval appears primed to continue his hot streak this weekend, with three right-handed pitchers slated to toe the rubber for the Padres in a series between the NL West basement dwellers.
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