Kapler not concerned with Sandoval's size

'The expectation is he slugs ... He's a good DH candidate for us'

July 6th, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- appeared to report to Summer Camp last week with a bulkier frame than in the spring, but manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants are not concerned about his size or fitness for the 2020 season.

“I think what we're always looking for is, ‘Is Pablo able to do the things necessary for him to be a good baseball player?’” Kapler said Sunday. “I think it's understandable that in today's world we focus on weight. I get it. In this particular case, what we've all noticed about Pablo is that the ball is jumping off his bat, and his throws have nice carry. Obviously, we've had concerns about whether he was going to be ready [after Tommy John surgery] and at what point he was going to be ready to play third base and first base. He's demonstrated that he's healthy. That's the most important thing.”

Sandoval, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 268 pounds in the Giants' media guide, underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in September and was initially expected to miss the first month of the season while completing his rehab. He's fully recovered now and has been an unrestricted participant in the first three workouts of Summer Camp at Oracle Park, taking grounders at the corner-infield spots and facing live pitching on Sunday.

The 33-year-old switch-hitter has dealt with weight fluctuations throughout his career, but he's emerged as a valuable role player since returning to San Francisco in 2017 following his ill-fated tenure with the Red Sox. Last year, Sandoval batted .268 with an .820 OPS and 14 home runs over 108 games. He's in camp as a non-roster invitee after signing a Minor League deal in January, but he's likely to make the Giants' 30-man Opening Day roster and reprise his role as a backup corner infielder and key bat off the bench.

“Look, he's not going to bat leadoff for us,” Kapler said. “The expectation with Pablo Sandoval is he slugs. He drives the baseball. He's a good DH candidate for us. He's got nice, soft hands, and all of those things are present in camp. Those are the things that we're going to be focusing on.”

Kapler said he feels for Sandoval, who has come under public scrutiny for his weight since debuting with the Giants in 2008.

“I have a lot of empathy for Pablo and what it must be like to be dealing with this kind of scrutiny,” Kapler said. “I wouldn't wish it on anyone.”