Sandoval homers as righty for 1st time since '14

September 18th, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO -- Not much has clicked for offensively in the last month. Before Sunday, he had two hits in his last 57 at-bats. His slump encompassed a streak of 39 hitless at-bats, the longest such slump of his career.

But the player they call "Panda" finally had something to cheer about in the Giants' 7-2 triumph over the D-backs.

He hit a solo home run in the sixth, his first batting right-handed since Aug. 2014, and added a single in the second. The homer, which had an exit velocity of 108 mph by Statcast™, was the hardest-hit ball in the game overall.

Coincidentally, was atop the mound the last time Sandoval homered from the right side. The Giants honored Vogelsong with a pregame ceremony as the 40-year-old retired as a Giant.

"He hasn't gotten a lot of at-bats right-handed," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's good to see him have a good day. Both sides. He stayed back better. He got better swings off.

"That home run was big because they're back in the ballgame and brought in a lefty. … It's good to see him just get a hold of one from the right side to give us a three-run cushion."

When Sandoval debuted in San Francisco last month, he insisted he would continue switch-hitting. He abandoned his right-handed swing in 2015 after dismal splits. He also had left shoulder surgery in 2016.

"I've been through a lot of things and surgery," Sandoval said. "You have to keep grinding and have faith in everything you can do at home plate. You keep working hard and do everything you can to get the momentum going again."

Before Sunday, Sandoval was 1-for-25 as a righty this year for the Giants.

Sandoval still has a lot to prove if he wants to be a part of San Francisco's plans going forward. But a performance like he had Sunday is encouraging, because it shows that the veteran still has the ability to plant one off a lefty.

"I've been working hard and doing everything I can to continue to get out of those things," Sandoval said of his slump. "Don't think about it. Keep swinging. I do everything at home plate I can to put the ball in play."