SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants hope to learn by early August if Pablo Sandoval deserves a second chance -- or if they have second thoughts about giving him one.
The inevitable became official Saturday as Sandoval, cast aside by the Red Sox after 2 1/2 mostly fruitless seasons, agreed to terms on a deal with the Giants that will allow him to demonstrate whether he retained or can recapture the hitting prowess that distinguished his tenure with San Francisco from 2008-14.
"To be here, it's special," Sandoval said at AT&T Park. "I had the greatest moments in my career here."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy estimated that Sandoval should demonstrate his skill level after accumulating 40 to 50 plate appearances in the Minor Leagues, a trial which likely will last two weeks.
Bochy said that Sandoval's willingness to engage in what is essentially an extended tryout is a "win-win" for the switch-hitting third baseman as well as for the Giants, whose offense has remained among the least productive in the Major Leagues all season.
"I think you look at it as a free look at a player who has done some good things in this game," Bochy said of the Sandoval experiment. "It happens sometimes. A change in scenery can get a player back to the player that he is."
Sandoval was expected to join Class A Advanced San Jose and play Saturday night for the Giants' California League affiliate against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. He's then scheduled to advance to Triple-A Sacramento.
Beforehand, Sandoval hadn't appeared in a Major League game since June 19 for Boston, which designated him for assignment on July 14. Sandoval compiled a slash line of .212/.269/.354 in 32 games with Boston this season. He also recorded four homers and 12 RBIs. During his 161-game Boston stint, Sandoval totaled 14 homers and 59 RBIs to go with a slash line of .237/.286/.360.
This was far from Sandoval's level of production with San Francisco (.294/.346/.465). His output peaked in 2009, his first full year with the club (.330/.387/.556 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs), though he was good enough to make the National League All-Star team in '11 and '12. Sandoval also tied a record by hitting three home runs in Game 1 of the '12 World Series against Detroit.
Asked why he chose the Giants during his brief entry into free agency, Sandoval said, "Why here? Five years, three rings -- three World Series. Dynasty times three. The fan support. Teammates. The manager."
Sandoval lacked this sentiment when he left the Giants for the Red Sox as a free agent following the 2014 season. San Francisco remained competitive in the bidding until Boston offered the "Kung Fu Panda" $95 million over five years. After signing with Boston, Sandoval said that Bochy and right fielder Hunter Pence were the only Giants he would miss.
Saying "I learned my lesson" and citing "miscommunication," Sandoval apologized to players and fans for those remarks. He did add, "Hunter's like my brother now; Bochy was like my dad at that time."
Sandoval also admitted, "I wish I could get back the time to have the opportunity to sign here [after 2014]." But, he concluded, "It's past."