SAN FRANCISCO -- The relationship between Giants manager Bruce Bochy and infielder Pablo Sandoval has withstood some tough times.Enduring those stressful periods, however, cemented the bond between Bochy and Sandoval, who paid his skipper the ultimate compliment by referring to him as a father figure.The kinship between Bochy and Sandoval
SAN FRANCISCO -- The relationship between Giants manager Bruce Bochy and infielder Pablo Sandoval has withstood some tough times.
Enduring those stressful periods, however, cemented the bond between Bochy and Sandoval, who paid his skipper the ultimate compliment by referring to him as a father figure.
The kinship between Bochy and Sandoval is evident on the telecast of the "Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards," which is presented by Levi's.
The awards show, which was taped on Wednesday, airs tonight at 7 PT on NBC Sports Bay Area. It will repeat at 10 p.m. PT and Monday at 8 p.m. PT. Visit NBCSportsBayArea.com for additional air dates and times.
Presented annually, the Game Changer Awards feature Bay Area professional athletes paying tribute to coaches who influenced their success. Sandoval, a two-time National League All-Star who's one of nine players to participate on all three of San Francisco's World Series-winning teams, elected to honor Bochy, who has benched him and boosted him at various times during his career.
It was Bochy who removed Sandoval, who was in poor physical condition, from the lineup during the 2010 postseason. And it was Bochy who warmly welcomed back Sandoval in 2017 -- even after Sandoval criticized the Giants upon leaving for Boston in free agency following the 2014 season.
"I love him like I'm his son," Sandoval said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. "... I want him to be my manager when I retire from baseball."
Bochy related that supporting players like Sandoval through good times and bad is one of the most rewarding aspects of his job. "If you make an impact on a player that's struggling and you can help him, that's what the game's about," Bochy said.
Sandoval, 32, has remained appreciative of Bochy's patience with him: "He always let me be. He always opened the doors to have fun, respect the game, teach me the right way and care about my teammates. When you have a manager like that, you always want to respect that."
Bochy has tried to nurture and preserve the pure love of the game that Sandoval displayed since he made his Major League debut in 2008. "He had such a hop to his step," Bochy said. "It was infectious and it never stopped."
Bochy's attempts to urge Sandoval to stay physically fit have been less successful.
"Let's be honest. That's been a battle for him," Bochy said. "But one thing he always gives you is effort. That couldn't be stronger."
The same could be said of Sandoval's respect for Bochy. That's why he approached Bochy first upon rejoining the Giants in 2017, three years after basically trashing the entire organization except for right fielder Hunter Pence.
"I don't want to be the cancer in the clubhouse," Sandoval recalled saying.
Whatever Sandoval said suited Bochy.
"When he came back from Boston," Bochy said, "I couldn't have been happier."
Chris Haft has covered the Major Leagues since 1991 and has worked for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.