SAN FRANCISCO–When Pablo Sandoval left San Francisco to sign with the Boston Red Sox after the Giants won the 2014 World Series, the thought of Sandoval ever returning to don the orange and black was far-fetched.
Yet less than three years later, Sandoval is back in a Giants’ uniform, and on Saturday evening against the Diamondbacks, he’ll hit in the cleanup spot for Bruce Bochy’s squad.
“It’s going to be emotional for me,” Sandoval said in the clubhouse prior to his debut with the Giants. “The fans out there I know I hurt… but at the same time I have people backing me up. But I just want to be focused to try to do the best, I play the game the right way. My main goal was to come back here, now it’s win games and do the best out there.”
After Sandoval won his third World Series with the Giants in 2014, he cashed in his chips to the tune of a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox, and proceeded to become one of the biggest free-agent flops in baseball history.
Over the past two seasons, Sandoval played in just 65 games for Boston, and after he hit just .212 in 32 games this season, the Red Sox elected to designate him for assignment.
Eight days after that, Sandoval inked a Minor League contract with the Giants, and two weeks later, he has returned to the ballpark that helped make him one of the Giants’ most beloved players in the early 2010s dynasty.
How Giants fans will react when Sandoval strides to the plate for the first time on Saturday evening remains uncertain, largely due to the fact his departure from the franchise in 2014 was hardly pleasant. Sandoval famously said he wouldn’t miss most of his teammates, but now he insists he’s a different person.
“I learned a lot of things, I matured a little bit more,” Sandoval said. “They say everything happens for a reason, so the good thing is I’ve got my family. I’m happy, I’m a happy guy. I’ve matured. I’ve learned a lot of things in baseball so I’m a different guy than I was there. I was younger. Now it’s way different. There’s a lot of things to compare that I was, if I had the mind that I had right now, it’s way different.”