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Sandoval impressing Bochy in bid to earn 2018 roster spot

PHOENIX, Ariz.–Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen only gives up a few home runs each season.

And on Saturday evening, in the Dodgers’ 4-2 victory over the Giants, Jansen surrendered his fifth home run of the year to Giants’ infielder Pablo Sandoval.

Sandoval hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball since arriving back in San Francisco, but over the past week, the 31-year-old native of Venezuela has picked up his pace in an effort to prove he belongs on a Major League roster in 2018.

If it’s up to Sandoval, he’ll play for the Giants. By the sounds of it, manager Bruce Bochy would love to give him that opportunity.

“You know what, he’s been playing good baseball, he’s been swinging the bat well,” Bochy said Monday. “He had the one home run in LA but if you look at his last couple of weeks, it’s really picked up with the bat and his approach at the plate has been so much better. He’s played good defense, he’s been great to have around, so I think he’s done well for himself since he’s been here.”

Because the Boston Red Sox owe Sandoval the full value of his contract through the end of the 2019 season, the Giants can keep Sandoval around for the Major League minimum. Whether Sandoval can perform up to the Giants’ expectations during Spring Training remains to be seen, but on Monday, Bochy indicated he plans on giving Sandoval a shot this spring.

Sandoval is determined to make the most of his offseason, as he’s explored opportunities to play winter ball in Mexico. Pursuing a contract with a team in Mexico will be difficult because Sandoval’s contract is owned by Magellanes of Venezuela, but with the political turmoil in his home country, Sandoval isn’t giving up on the chance to continue playing this winter.

Slater to see a specialist

Giants’ rookie Austin Slater will travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday to see Dr. William Myers, who will evaluate whether Slater’s groin injury is actually a sports hernia.

Slater is hitting .282 in 127 at-bats with the Giants this year, but missed a considerable portion of the second half of the year due to a hip injury. Since returning in early September, Slater has recorded four hits in 17 at-bats. He last played on September 17.

Slater is expected to rejoin the team in San Francisco for its final series of the season this weekend when the Giants take on the San Diego Padres.

Decision on Cain imminent

Bochy said that after Monday’s contest against the Diamondbacks, he’ll be able to reveal when Giants’ starter Matt Cain will pitch against the Padres.

The 13th-year veteran is expected to make the final appearance of his tenure in San Francisco at AT&T Park this weekend, as the Giants do not intend to pick up his option for the 2018 season. Cain has not announced his plans for the future, but it’s possible he’ll attempt to continue his career with a different franchise next season.



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