San Francisco Giants back in Panda-Mode: Pablo Sandoval activated

You know, sometimes Bruce Bochy is better off just keeping his mouth shut.

Earlier this week, in some kind of feeble attempt to use the media to motivate Pablo Sandoval into keeping himself in better shape, the Giants skipper intimated that the Pablo’s job at third base was not secure if Sandoval could not keep himself in good enough shape to play the position effectively.

It’s not just about offense; it’s about defense, too, Bochy said.

Then, just hours — no, not even hours, MINUTES — after the Giants suffered their first shutout loss of the season, and not coincidently on the same night Sandoval belted two home runs for the Fresno Grizzlies, a phone call was made to the San Joaquin Valley.

“Hello? Pablo?”

On Friday night, after a 5-0 loss to the Rangers in which the Giants only advanced one runner to second base (and that was only for one second when Barry Zito was caught overrunning the bag), the Giants activated Sandoval from the disabled list and optioned Brett Pill to Triple-A.

So let’s recap.

When the Giants sent Sandoval on a minor-league assignment a little more than a week ago, the target return date at AT&T for the Panda was Friday’s series opener with the Rangers.

Then on Monday, Bochy said the Panda was a little to spongy around the middle and he would be activated by Tuesday’s opener with the Astros.

In reality, the delay in Sandoval’s return had less to do with his girth and more to do with the fact that the Rangers had planned to start two lefties in the series at AT&T — Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.

Sandoval’s progress from the left side of the plate is slightly ahead of the right side because the surgery he had in early May was on his left hand, the bottom hand on the bat when he bats right. He did bat right-handed in a game Thursday at Fresno, going 0 for 5. His two homers Friday came from the left side.

But when Holland landed on the DL this week and was replaced by righty Alexis Ogando for Sunday’s start — not to mention Friday’s shutout loss and the Melky Cabrera’s tender hamstring — it was time to speed up the return of Panda Mode.

The Giants’ goal when Sandoval went on the DL was to simply tread water until he got back. They did better than that, going a major league-best 21-11 since May 5.

Now they are looking for Sandoval to provide an offensive spark to a team that has not scored more than four runs in their last nine home games.

So here’s Saturday’s projected lineup

  1. LF Gregor Blanco
  2. 2B Ryan Theriot
  3. 3B Pablo Sandoval
  4. C Buster Posey
  5. CF Angel Pagan
  6. 1B Brandon Belt
  7. RF Nate Schierholtz
  8. SS Brandon Crawford
  9. P Ryan Vogelsong

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