Pablo Sandoval is a Giants fan favorite again, but it’s been a long road. After being a beloved contributor on three World Series teams, Sandoval left on bad terms when he signed a $50 million deal with the Red Sox in 2015. As has been well documented, things were never the same for Sandoval after that.
Sandoval flamed out in epic fashion, spending most of his time in Boston on the IL and not contributing in any meaningful way when he was in the lineup. He struggled with his weight and the weight of expectations that came with the move. Ultimately, Boston gave up on him after two seasons, with the Red Sox deciding it was better for them to eat the rest of his contract then have him on the team.
“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 explained in a revealing interview with ESPN. “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.
“And, of course, lots of comments were made. I was mocked many times for my weight, but I learned to use all that as inspiration and as a learning experience.”
While nearly everyone had come to the conclusion that Sandoval was done, his old manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to give up on him, even if Giants fans weren’t quite ready to welcome him with open arms.
“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.”
But when Sandoval returned to 3rd and King so did his joy, and the Giants fans ultimately forgave him for his unceremonious exit. Now one of the best bench players in the National League, Sandoval reflected on the adjustments he’s made in his second stint with San Francisco.
“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 said. “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.”
Most of that love is reserved for Bochy, who Sandoval has said is more like a father to him than a manager.
“I think [Bochy] has been a very important factor in me being here today,” Sandoval noted to ESPN. “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.”