Kung Fu Panda’s gut is making a comeback.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged to Chris Haft of MLB.com Monday that third baseman Pablo Sandoval has regained at least some of the 40 pounds that he dropped last winter in a hardcore conditioning and dieting program.
Bochy didn’t seem bothered by the gain, telling Haft and other reporters that “overall, it’s been good.”
But the then-and-now pictures tell a different story.
Here’s Sandoval taking a swing during an April 23 game against the Braves:
And here’s a picture of Sandoval during last night’s 8-3 defeat of the Padres:
Sandoval has actually posted a slightly better batting line (.299/.351/.519) since the All-Star break than the .303/.341/.503 mark that he registered in the first half. He has also slugged more home runs.
But the Giants have to be concerned about his long-term ability to stay fit and healthy while manning a position that requires a serious amount of athleticism. Might another personal offseason training regimen be in order?
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.