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Pablo Sandoval is turning heads

Mar 10, 2011, 9:12 AM EDT

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

Back in Scottsdale I was truly surprised at just how good Pablo Sandoval looked in the locker room, and during his first game of spring training I was surprised at just how sprightly he seemed on the field.  At the same time, I also wondered if the sprightliness was merely a function of first game adrenaline and if, smaller or not, he’d revert to his lumbering ways once he got back into the routine of playing baseball.

Seems there’s nothing to worry about:

“My first step,” [Sandoval] said after being asked about the biggest benefit to losing almost 40 pounds this winter. “Especially at third base, you have to be quick. That’s why I worked so hard on it every day” …

“He’s moving around so much better now — left, right, coming in on balls,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s feeling good about that first step. He’s bouncing around out there.”

Indeed, not a day goes by when someone watching a Giants game doesn’t tweet something about how quick Sandoval looks at third base.  This transformation does in fact seem to be more than merely cosmetic.

Which will be hugely important for the Giants, because I’m a bit dubious about their chances to repeat as NL West champs.

I don’t like Miguel Tejada at short and I don’t have a ton of confidence that Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell will contribute anything close to what they contributed last year.  As such, a return to 2009 form for Sandoval is essential to make up for those places where I think they’ll regress.

  1. BC - Mar 10, 2011 at 9:23 AM

    Tejada is almost done at this point, and I can’t believe Burrell gave them anything at all last year. I think Huff is going to have a good year though, he seems to have a lot left in the tank.

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 10, 2011 at 9:42 AM

      Two words: Red thong.

  2. jkcalhoun - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    I’m only worried about whether they’ll find a replacement for Jose Guillen, because at this stage in spring training no one has yet emerged as the nearly immobile veteran who really can’t play anymore but is nevertheless essential in order to hide a secret playoff weapon on the bench.

    Repeating is hard. This is why.

  3. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM

    Craig, why are surprised after all Sandoval is clearly in the best shape of his life.

  4. marklar1025 - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    im not surprised you’re picking the Giants to miss out on the NL West… you did the same last season too. Please, keep picking against the Giants – it only helps them.

    With Kung fu Panda in shape, Posey for a full season, DeRosa & Tejada in the lineup everyday, no reason the Giants shouldnt score more runs this year. Pitching staff is better this year too. Giants win 96 games and take NL West.

  5. feartherallythong - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    As happy as I am that the Panda is finally taking his conditioning seriously, even more important is that he has been working hard (apparently) on his plate discipline. It may be true that “The Great Miggy Tejada Experiment of 2011” will not pan out (and at best I think he will be a push vs. Uribe), but the guy I am watching out for is Freddy Sanchez.
    The guy won a batting title, he can flat-out hit, who the he11 knows if he’ll ever have a full, healthy season – but imagine this lineup scenario (not unreasonable IMHO):
    Torres – .280
    Sanchez – .295
    Huff -.290
    Posey – .305, 30 HR
    Sandoval – .300, 25 HR
    Tejada – .265
    Ross – .270
    Burrell/Ishi/DeRosa/Fontenot. .250
    That’s actually a better-than-average lineup! If healthy, Sanchez could easily do better than .300, and if the veterans from last year can at least hold their own – this team will be right there at the end of the season. I do think we need to clear out at least one of the Fontenot/Burrell/DeRosa gang – and interestingly (just looked it up) Fontenot seems to be the best bet to keep, at least based on age and recent batting averages (.280s).

  6. ta192 - Mar 10, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Yeah, well, let’s see if he can hit. If he can, the weight loss will get the credit. On the other hand…

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