GLENDALE, Ariz. — Less than six months after the at-bat that looked to so many like his last with the Giants, Pablo Sandoval will once again step into the batters’ box wearing orange and black.
That Sept. 1 farewell, in which an ailing Sandoval soaked in San Francisco’s love and held back tears as he prepared for the unknowns of both free agency and Tommy John surgery, will go down as his final at-bat for Bruce Bochy. But he’ll have his first at-bat for Gabe Kapler, and just another one with the Giants, on Friday.
Kapler said the 33-year-old, who is in camp on a minor league deal and swinging for that 26th-man spot, will be the DH against the Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium, the nightcap of a split-squad day. Kapler said Sandoval, who has looked impressive in early batting practices, will have no restrictions from the plate, able to bat from each side.
Sandoval is still a ways away from taking the field — he has been throwing in camp, but not when taking ground balls — but his bat is “penciled in” to its first lineup.
As for the other surprising Giants reunion, Hunter Pence will “probably” make his spring debut early next week, Kapler said. The Giants are taking it easy with the outfielder who missed the end of last season with the Rangers due to a bad back.
More firsts: Jeff Samardzija will start Wednesday, Tyler Beede and Logan Webb will debut Thursday and Johnny Cueto on Friday.
After the Giants’ 4-3 loss against the White Sox on Tuesday, Kapler wanted to make sure to single out righty Carlos Navas, who struck out two — and a meaningful two, Edwin Encarnacion and Luis Robert — and really recorded four outs in his inning, as shortstop Ryan Howard made a throwing error.
“He was the standout of the day on the mound,” Kapler said of the 27-year-old righty, who has not pitched in the majors and maxed out in Triple-A Sacramento last season. “… He’s been attacking the strike zone throughout and mixing his pitches well and demonstrating that he has the confidence to be a major league pitcher.”