SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval's emotion-filled Saturday began at approximately 1 a.m. CT, when he received a phone call in Omaha, Neb., informing him of his promotion to the Giants.
As Sandoval related, his reaction came straight from his heart. "I started crying," he said before the Giants' 5-4, 10-inning victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Sandoval's tears of joy turned to joy, period, once he arrived at AT&T Park. Rejoining the club he left following the 2014 season to sign with Boston as a free agent, Sandoval regarded his return as a homecoming. And he indeed looked at home as he occupied third base, his familiar territory. He went 1-for-3, lining a double and committing a harmless throwing error.
"When you come back with a second opportunity, it's special," said Sandoval, who was issued his familiar jersey No. 48.
The number on Sandoval's back wasn't his only recognizable trait. Batting left-handed against D-backs right-hander Taijuan Walker, the switch-hitting Sandoval belted a first-pitch double to left-center field to open the Giants' half of the seventh inning.
Not only was it a vintage Sandoval hit, but it also galvanized the Giants, whom Walker blanked on three hits through six innings. They proceeded to score three runs in the seventh, hastening their comeback.
"Something had to start us," Sandoval said. "I thought that was the inning to put pressure on. The pitcher was tired and we took advantage of that."
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, "I thought Pablo's double did a nice job of waking up the club. Because we looked dead in the water."
Sandoval's evening ended one inning later with the Giants still trailing, 4-3. With runners on the corners and nobody out against D-backs lefty Andrew Chafin, Bochy sent Buster Posey to bat for Sandoval, who has struggled against southpaws in recent years. This season, Sandoval hit .150 (3-for-20) off lefties with the Red Sox before they released him.
Posey grounded into a double play, but it enabled Kelby Tomlinson to score the tying run.
"I wanted to make sure we'd get that run in," Bochy said. "I don't think [Sandoval] saw a lot of lefties down there [in the Minors]."
Sandoval didn't seem at all upset about being replaced.
"It's part of the game," he said. "[Bochy] knows how to move the pieces out there."
The AT&T Park patrons responded to his appearance in the lineup against Arizona with warm applause, though some booing was audible.
The switch-hitting Sandoval, who turns 31 next Friday, was batting .207 (6-for-29) with one home run in nine games for Triple-A Sacramento as he reacclimated himself to baseball following his release from the Red Sox on July 19.
The Giants had hoped Sandoval would accumulate 40 or 50 at-bats before they'd summon him. First baseman Brandon Belt's move to the seven-day concussion-related disabled list after he was beaned Friday night created an opportunity to elevate Sandoval, a two-time All-Star who batted .294 as a Giant and played on all three World Series-winning teams since 2010.
As he did when the Giants signed him to a Minor League contract last month, Sandoval thanked the organization. But this time, his gratitude was mingled with determination.
"My one goal is to win games," Sandoval said.
Bochy sensed that resolve.
"We need a little presence here," said Bochy, whose Giants own a 43-69 record. "We need a guy who hopefully [lends] a spark and creates some energy. And Pablo can do that. He has a lot of fun playing and he adds a lot of life to the dugout."