Joe Panik is on the disabled list and Kelby Tomlinson isn’t hitting. Between that and the fact that Buster Posey had a day off due to an ailing hip, Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided to go with Operation: Panda at second base for last night’s Giants-Cubs game in Chicago. It worked surprisingly well.
Sandoval came up as a catcher and has played most of his time in the bigs as a third baseman. He served as an emergency second base option for a partial inning for Boston last year, but when you think of him your mind does not immediately think “middle infielder.” With a new lease on baseball life back in San Francisco, however, he’s taken the “team-player” ethos to heart and seems willing to do whatever he’s asked. He recently pitched in relief and, in recent weeks has been taking grounders at second, just in case.
Last night he got the start and, because they are nothing if not hilarious, the Baseball Gods decided to make the ball find Sandoval a couple of times right off the bat. Cubs leadoff hitter Albert Almora Jr. hit a ball to the pitcher Ty Blach that ricocheted to Sandoval. He picked it up with his bare hand, but Almora beat the throw. Next up was Javier Baez, who hit a grounder to second which Sandoval snagged with a dive to his left, pulling a 360 and pegging Baez at first. Watch:
He’d later help turn a double play.
The decision to put Sandoval in the game paid off on offense too, as he went 1-for-3 with a run driven in. His fun did not last all game long, however, as he was lifted in a double switch midway through the game.
The Giants lost because Blach pitched terribly, but the putting Sandoval in at second base was an unexpected win.