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Inbox: More playing time in Sandoval's future?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from fans
@mi_guardado
April 15, 2019

Given their recent struggles to score runs, do you see the Giants giving more playing time to Pablo Sandoval? -- Vincent Y., Pleasanton, Calif. Sandoval has certainly been productive off the bench, going 5-for-13 with four doubles, so it'll be interesting to see if the Giants will give him a

Given their recent struggles to score runs, do you see the Giants giving more playing time to Pablo Sandoval?
-- Vincent Y., Pleasanton, Calif.

Sandoval has certainly been productive off the bench, going 5-for-13 with four doubles, so it'll be interesting to see if the Giants will give him a few more starts at third base over Evan Longoria, who is batting just .197 over his first 16 games. Though he's made only three starts for the Giants this year, Sandoval's prowess as a pinch-hitter has allowed him to continue to make meaningful contributions late in games. He could also get a look at designated hitter next week, as the Giants will conclude their three-city road trip with a two-game series in Toronto.

I'm sure the Giants are always monitoring the trade market for potential matches, but I think it's unlikely that any major move will get done this early in the season, especially since free agents Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel remain available to teams in search of pitching help. Most clubs prefer to use the first couple months of the season to assess their level of competitiveness before deciding whether to add or sell talent ahead of the Trade Deadline. The Giants' pitching is what has kept them in games thus far, so I'm not sure they would be too keen on subtracting from that strength just yet.

I don't think Joe Panik's trade value is particularly high right now, as he is in his final season before free agency and is coming off a down season. Like many of the Giants’ hitters, Panik is also off to a sluggish start and now appears to have a platoon partner at second base in Yangervis Solarte. I think Panik still possesses traits that the Giants value, most notably his strong defense and his elite bat-to-ball skills. If he starts to heat up at the plate and stays healthy, then I think he could become a potential trade chip down the line.

What's the latest on Stephen Vogt?
-- Alex P., Berkeley, Calif.

Vogt agreed to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento as he continues to work his way back from right shoulder surgery. Vogt has made four starts behind the plate, but he has not yet caught back-to-back nine-inning games. The Giants will have to make a call on Vogt before his June 1 opt-out date, though manager Bruce Bochy recently said that he believes a decision could be made sooner than that.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.