The Giants announced Thursday that injury has wrought even more devastation on their roster after an MRI showed that Pablo Sandoval had sustained a season-ending torn right hamstring that will require surgical repair.
The injury came as he slid home Sunday at AT&T Park against the Brewers, shortly after legging out his first triple since 2015.
Sandoval returned chastened last summer after an ugly divorce from the Giants in the wake of the 2014 World Series victory. He publicly bashed San Francisco and the organization he came up in after signing a five-year, $95-million contract with the Red Sox ahead of the 2015 season.
But poor performance, and issues with weight and injuries, led Boston to release Sandoval last July 19. Three days later, with a 38-61 record and nothing to lose, the Giants picked up his contract for the league minimum, and it’s been all upside on Boston’s dime ever since.
Particularly in 2018, the City’s beloved “Kung Fu Panda” has provided depth for the club that was markedly absent in recent years, in addition to a humble willingness to be whatever the Giants needed him to be, and then some. This acceptance of filling in wherever necessary, along with his positive attitude, is something manager Bruce Bochy expressed effusive praise for in early June after Brandon Belt was placed on the DL after an emergency appendectomy:
“We’re lucky to have a guy like Pablo, as I say a lot, to soften the blow of losing a regular player, and he’s doing that. I’m sure he’s excited about getting regular playing time, because this guy loves to play baseball.”
Sandoval has softened the blow of losing Belt twice now (appendix, then right knee), Evan Longoria (left hand) and even Joe Panik (left thumb, then left groin). He’s played four different positions over the course of 92 games, including a start at every single base and DH.
And early in the season, Sandoval even pitched a shutdown ninth inning in the first leg of a doubleheader against the Dodgers in which the Giants were getting absolutely clobbered. The appearance saved what was left of San Francisco’s bullpen while providing comic relief that likely played a part in the team moving on from the beating to take the nightcap.
The Panda is known for providing both levity and leadership in the Giants clubhouse. He is simultaneously a goofball and the guy who bonds with young guys, taking them out to dinner on road trips and offering them advice.
And so on the same day the Giants announced that their No. 2 starter Johnny Cueto‘s season-ending Tommy John surgery went off without a hitch, they were forced to also acknowledge they’ve also just lost some of the glue that was keeping this barely-above-.500 Giants team from falling apart.