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Weekend BP: Sandoval is way ahead of schedule

The Panda is nearing full health.

MLB: San Francisco Giants-Media Day Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

When Pablo Sandoval underwent Tommy John surgery in September, it put his entire 2020 season in doubt. If you thought it would take long enough for him to recover and rehab that he wouldn’t play this year, you weren’t crazy.

The general sentiment was that the surgery would cost him about half a season, at which point he could catch on with an American League team so he could be a Designated Hitter, as he still wouldn’t be able to play the field.

Here’s what no one - absolutely no one - thought: That Sandoval could be ready for opening day as a position player. He still probably won’t, but my goodness he’s going to be close.

Sandoval made his spring debut last night as a DH, and I can’t tell you how he did because I’m writing this before the game. Let’s hope he did well.

Hitting in a game is already three weeks ahead of schedule for Sandoval, but here’s the crazy thing: He’s getting pretty close to playing the field as well.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle notes that Sandoval is flying ahead of his schedule:

In a potentially bigger development, the Panda revealed before the game that he is already playing catch at 105 feet, at full effort, every other day.

That puts him far ahead of his original rehab timetable after he had Tommy John surgery on Sept. 4 to reconstruct his right elbow.

. . .

Sandoval said his arm feels “100 percent comfortable” and he has rehabbed with no setbacks, not even the normal soreness and dead-arm that usually forces Tommy John patients to stop working for a short time.

For what it’s worth, as good as Sandoval is as a pinch-hitter, Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi won’t put the Panda on the roster until he can play in the field.

Whenever Sandoval is ready to go, he’ll almost surely be on the roster. The Giants don’t really have a strong backup for Evan Longoria at third base, nor do they have many power options on the bench.

So he’ll be there, eventually. And “eventually” is a lot sooner than we once thought.