AT&T Park — If there were negative sentiments festering within the San Francisco Giants organization after third baseman Pablo Sandoval signed with the Boston Red Sox in 2015 and took apparent shots at the team, there might not be anymore.
On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy reflected positively on Sandoval’s contributions when asked about the 31-year-old’s season-ending torn hamstring. It was perhaps San Francisco’s most comprehensive show of support for Sandoval since he rejoined the Giants midway through last year.
Sandoval will undergo surgery Tuesday morning.
“He’s a big part of this club,” Bochy said. “His energy, his passion. So that we’re gonna miss. Once he gets through the surgery tomorrow morning, hopefully he’ll be around and just keep the guys upbeat.”
Sandoval has acknowledged he never really fit in during his unsuccessful stint with the Red Sox. He played just 161 games in three years and was heavily criticized by people in and around Boston’s organization for his weight and inability to stay healthy.
He’s not received the same blowback since returning to San Francisco, even though he’s been a below-average hitter and defender since coming back to the Giants. Sandoval has been worth -0.3 wins above replacement during that span and managed a .238 batting average.
“Coming to Boston was his choice,” said former Red Sox manager John Farrell last year in response to Sandoval claiming he wasn’t comfortable in Boston. “We went to many steps that took into account his needs on and off the field as best we could.”
Bochy struck a different tone Monday, praising Sandoval’s ability to adjust to any role he’s been asked to fill with San Francisco, including a scoreless inning on the mound.
“First base, third base, even second base we had to play him there,” Bochy said. “There were times when he sat on the bench and came off as a pinch-hitter. Never complained, was always in the same mood every day.
“He misses playing. This is what he loves to do, and now he can’t do it for a while.”
First baseman Brandon Belt (knee) took ground balls Monday and could return as early as next week. The Giants haven’t yet decided if he’ll need a rehab assignment.
Belt amassed 14 home runs and 43 RBIs before his July injury.
“He did some running on the treadmill, he’s taking some swings, he’s just doing more and more each day,” Bochy said. “His progress is going well.”
Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (shoulder) threw a 30-pitch bullpen Monday as he continues to work his way back from a recurring injury that’s bothered him throughout the season.
Right now, the plan is for Samardzija to throw another bullpen Thursday before completing a simulated outing next Monday in Los Angeles. A rehab assignment could follow those steps if all goes well, though he’s already had multiple setbacks in his recovery.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE: “We have to be honest, not had a lot of luck with the concussion thing, so you’re always trying to stay optimistic, but with how it’s gone for us, once I hear concussion tests it’s like, ‘Oh no.’” –Bochy on his initial reaction to catcher Buster Posey’s head injury this past weekend, which Posey has since recovered from.