It’s been 10 days since the San Francisco Giants placed Pablo Sandoval on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to August 11. Sandoval’s injury was listed as “elbow inflammation” (read: bone chips), and hasn’t been followed up with much information, which isn’t exactly a good thing. When it comes to vague injuries, a lack of follow-up news is usually a bad sign.
We know that he’s searching for some answers:
Pablo Sandoval will fly to Los Angeles tonight and have his right elbow examined by the same doctor who looked at Steven Duggar’s shoulder.— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) August 20, 2019
And we know that the team is prepared for the worst, as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Hank Schulman reported that “chances are fair” that the Panda’s season is over.
If Sandoval’s season is indeed over, then it’s quite likely that Sandoval’s tenure as a member of the Giants is over. And given how rejuvenated his 2019 season has been, it’s rather sad to think of it wilting long before the finish line.
It certainly wasn’t supposed to be like that. Sandoval was supposed to be on the field for Game 162, hugging good friend Bruce Bochy as the manager waltzed into the sunset. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly reported that the playful discussions of Sandoval playing all nine positions in a single game were actually serious, and the team had started preparing for it, should they have a meaningless game in the final weeks.
Instead, it seems most likely that Sandoval’s season, and Giants career, will end with him in the dugout, clapping hands and being jovial, but unable to get onto the field.
That’s a bit sad. After a less-than-ideal San Francisco departure, and a thoroughly mediocre return in 2017 and 2018, Sandoval had a helluva reclamation 2019. He hit .264/.314/.509, good for a .823 OPS that was his best mark since 2011. After being a negative player for a half decade, he was worth 1.4 rWAR in fewer than 300 plate appearances.
It was a good year, and if this is the last we see of Sandoval wearing the orange and black, then the final taste in our mouth should be sweet.
Of course, there is a chance that it isn’t the last we see of the Panda. It’s easy to say that Farhan Zaidi won’t be interested in retooling with aging veterans, and Sandoval will be 33 next year, but Zaidi signed Yangervis Solarte, Gerardo Parra, and Derek Holland to contracts in their age-32 seasons last offseason. Sandoval surely doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plans, but if Zaidi is unenthused about Zach Green, Chris Shaw, and all other first and third base options, an affordable, switch-hitting, positive clubhouse presence is just a phone call away. It could certainly happen.
In all likelihood, though, it won’t. We’ve seen 4,251 plate appearances from Sandoval, and we may not see another.