The Giants hope to learn by early August if Pablo Sandoval deserves a second chance — or if they have second thoughts about giving him one.
The inevitable became official Saturday as Sandoval, cast aside by the Red Sox after 2 1/2 mostly fruitless seasons, agreed to terms on a deal with the Giants that will allow him to demonstrate whether he retained or can recapture the hitting prowess that distinguished his tenure with San Francisco from 2008-14.
“To be here, it’s special,” Sandoval said at AT&T Park. “I had the greatest moments in my wholesale mlb jerseys career here.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy estimated that Sandoval should demonstrate his skill level after accumulating 40 to 50 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues, a trial which likely will last two weeks.
Bochy said that Sandoval’s willingness to engage in what is essentially an extended tryout is a “win-win” for the switch-hitting third baseman as well as for the Giants, whose offense has remained among the least productive in the Major Leagues all season.
“I think you look at it as a free look at a player who has done some good things in this game,” Bochy said of the Sandoval experiment. “It happens sometimes. A change in scenery can get a player back to the player that he is.”
Sandoval was expected to join Class A Advanced San Jose and play Saturday night for the Giants’ California League affiliate against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He’s then scheduled to advance to Triple-A Sacramento.
Bochy has used Panik up and down the order this season, though he has not batted cleanup or at No. 5. Panik has played 30 games while hitting second and another 29 while hitting seventh, a spot he’d been at for much of the previous two weeks until Nunez was traded.
Panik, who hit a bases-loaded triple on Tuesday, certainly looked at home in the second spot. He doubled off Pittsburgh starting pitcher Trevor Williams in the first inning. After taking third on a wild pitch, Panik scored the Giants’ first run on Brandon Crawford’s fielder’s choice grounder.
“It was nice to kind of get things rolling early today,” Panik said. “Any part in the order, you can do some damage. It’s the opportunities. You got [Brandon] Belt, Buster [Posey] and Craw behind you, Denard [Span] getting on base right now a lot, so it’s a good place to be hitting.”
While Bochy likes using Panik at No. 2, it’s possible, if not likely, that he will be moved back down in the order and may even get a day off when the Giants open a three-game series against the Dodgers on Friday. Los Angeles is scheduled to start Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the three games, all left-handers.
“That’s where [Panik is] accustomed to hitting,” Bochy said. “[Nunez] did such a good cheap mlb jerseys job hitting over .300, speed, which we needed at the top of the order trying to figure [out] ways to manufacture runs. We’re facing three lefties, so I’ll do a matchup thing and see where we’re at.”
Bumgarner is slated to join the Giants on their upcoming road trip to Colorado, where he will face a group of hitters that also includes rehabbing outfielder Jarrett Parker (fractured right clavicle). Bumgarner threw a bullpen session before Wednesday’s 7-2 loss to the Royals, and he didn’t report any setbacks.
“He’s fine,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He had a good bullpen, a good session.”
The 27-year-old southpaw injured himself in a dirt bike accident earlier this season during an off-day in Colorado. In four starts this season, he’s 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA, 28 strikeouts and four walks in 27 innings.
Bumgarner is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Monday, though he is expected to be out until at least mid-July since the team is targeting five rehab starts before he returns to San Francisco.