Tuesday, June 5, 2012

San Francisco Giants: Pablo Sandoval's Troubles More Serious Than They Appear

It has not been a good week for San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval.  Although he began his rehab stint with Single-A San Jose over the weekend, he was questioned by police on his involvement in a sexual harassment case in Aptos, was called out by his own manager and was deemed not ready to return to the team as scheduled.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly reported on Monday that Bochy is dissatisfied with Sandoval's progress in his rehab and could miss his presumed return date to San Francisco of Friday.  Bochy said next Tuesday is most likely a better scenario at this point.

"Giants manager Bruce Bochy met briefly with Sandoval on Saturday, and while he didn’t mention specifics of the conversation, clearly it was not a pleasant exchange. 
Bochy acknowledged that he isn’t sure that Sandoval is in condition to return to third base, where Joaquin Arias has set a defensive standard that will be difficult to match."
So what is Sandoval's deal then?

We know the Giants are angered at the fact Sandoval is supposed to be rehabbing from injury so he can return to San Francisco and help the Giants with their struggling power situation right now.  Instead, Sandoval was in Santa Cruz County getting into trouble.

Bochy also hinted at the fact that Sandoval's ongoing weight issue may have come back into play.  Sandoval's weight has been well-documented, but the time away from the conditioning because of surgery may have caused him to put the pounds back on.  That scenario has not boded well for Sandoval or the Giants in the past.

Sandoval hit .268 with 63 RBI in 2010 when his weight issue was at its peak, and the Giants managed to win the World Series despite his sub-par season.  He was able to get back into shape in 2011, batting .315 with 70 RBI in 35 less at-bats.

The Giants currently can afford to lose Sandoval and have him take his time in returning to the team.  They are coming off a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs and are winners in seven of their last eight games.  Also, three of their next four series are against teams with records well-under .500 in the San Diego Padres, Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

The Texas Rangers will come to San Francisco this weekend for a three-game series.

It is hard to envision Bochy and the Giants holding Sandoval's return back farther than next Tuesday when they start a three-game series with the Houston Astros.  Sandoval had a homerun and a double in his second game with Single-A San Jose on Sunday and is clearly on the path to getting back into form -- weight issue or not.

However, we should expect the Giants to ease Sandoval back into the regular starting lineup.  His replacement at third base, Joaquin Arias, has played very well both defensively and offensively in Sandoval's absence and could see a decent amount of time in the first couple weeks of Sandoval's return.

There is still much concern, though.  Sandoval's weight will be a topic no matter how he produces when he returns, and then the whole sexual harassment claim will be ongoing throughout the next month.

Through all that, Sandoval will need to produce on the field while juggling the other problems he has made for himself, or he could have even more problems than he already does now.

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