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The Panda Returns

Justin Couchot

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Whether you like it or not, the Panda is back. Pablo Sandoval is back once more in the orange and black for the San Francisco Giants.

After an injury-riden season followed by little success in the 32 games he played this year as a member of the Boston Red Sox, they finally cut ties with him and on July 19th he was released, this according to MLB.com.

The Giants saw this opportunity as low risk move to bring back a player who not only brought them great playoff heroics just a few years back, including winning the 2012 World Series MVP, but also united the fans for the one piece of Giants gear every fan had to have. Who could forget the thousands of panda hats sold over his seven year stretch the the Giants.

On July 22nd, the Giants signed Pablo Sandoval to a minor league deal.

While they were ready to see their former star once again on the field, they were not just gonna give him the starting spot. Even on a team with the worst record in the National League and second worst record in the Majors, the Giants were going to make him earn it.

After a brief stint in the minors for the Giants, on August 5th, Sandoval got the call. Hitting just a mere .207 with one home run over 9 games, the Giants decided that Sandoval could bring some experience, excitement, and maybe have a few clutch hits for them in the last month of the season.

What positive could the Giants have seen in his stint in the minors you ask? He did significantly cut down on his strikeouts, striking out just once in 29 at bats, as well as played solid defense at third base making no errors in his time at the hot corner.

Since coming back up to the Giants, Sandoval has been hardly impressive showing a lack of discipline at the plate once again. With his low average, strikeouts rising, we have to start to winder if this is the beginning of the end for Sandoval.

However, you can’t say he’s not trying and working hard to get back to his old self.

“I was in the dugout last night and you could hear him in the cage being Pablo,’’ manager Bruce Bochy told USA Today, “It’s great to have some energy.”

Could this be a different Panda we are seeing from the one we have seen before? One where he focuses more on contact and putting the ball in play rather that trying to put a charge into the ball and be one of the team’s leading home run hitters? This may be Sandoval’s way back up and seeing his career dwindling down.

However, not all Giants fans are pleased with this approach.

Lifelong Giants fan Erik Johansson said, “That’s not what we need right now though! We need solid D, and someone who can hit the long ball! It seems like this year our whole team decided to take this approach and look where we’re at! His D is great but we need his power.”

While frustration is easily understandable, it is always good to try and end the season on a positive note and I believe this is what the Giants are trying to do.

As the season winds down, even with very little production, it seems as though the Giants have settled upon having Sandoval return the hot corner to, if anything, bring back the craziness of the panda hats.

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The Panda Returns