Giants notes: Pablo Sandoval’s possible final game, Logan Webb shakes off spring numbers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On Saturday morning, the San Francisco Giants sent out a marketing email to their fans with a graphic hyping “what could be (Pablo Sandoval’s) final game in a Giants uniform.” The game in question is Tuesday’s Bay Bridge Series matchup against the Oakland A’s at Oracle Park. As of Sunday, however, Sandoval was still on the Giants’ roster competing for a final spot on the team’s active roster.

Speaking in the newly renovated home clubhouse at the Sacramento River Cats’ Sutter Health Park on Sunday, Sandoval was pragmatic about his chances to make the club but still expressed hope that he would be donning the orange and black on Opening Day. He admitted the last month back with the Giants organization has been emotional for him.

“I’ve been blessed to be back wearing this uniform,” he said. “They gave me an opportunity to play in the big leagues (originally) and they gave me the opportunity to get back on the field (this spring).”

Before the Giants took on their Triple-A affiliate on Sunday, manager Bob Melvin didn’t tip his hand about whether Sandoval would make the team, though a Giants roster that has added Matt Chapman and Jorge Soler over the past few months doesn’t leave much space for a corner infielder/DH type like Sandoval.

Regardless of how it ends, Melvin says Sandoval’s time in Giants camp this spring has been extremely valuable for the organization as a leader for the younger Giants. Giants ace Logan Webb, who was teammates with Sandoval when he made his major-league debut in 2019, says Sandoval immediately took him under his wing.

“I hope it’s not the last time (Sandoval is in a Giants uniform),” Webb said of Tuesday’s game. “But I hope people are just excited that they get to see him and get to see him in a Giants uniform.”

If Tuesday is Sandoval’s last game as a Giant, he’ll leave as one of the most beloved figures of the championship era. That love was evident on Sunday, as Sandoval received the loudest ovation from the sellout crowd of 14,014 when he singled in a pinch-hit at-bat. In the ninth, fans chanted, “We want Pablo” as the game ended with Sandoval on deck.

“Being on the other side and watching him build his career here, you get it once you’re on the same team with him and see the response that the fans have for him,” Melvin said, noting that he pinch-ran Sandoval a few times this spring just to get him ovations from the crowd. “He’s one of the beloved guys who’s ever been in this organization and once you’re around him, you understand that.”

Webb ready for Opening Day nod

It was a homecoming of sorts for Webb on Sunday. Though the Giants’ Opening Day starter didn’t get to pitch in front of friends and family, the Rocklin, Calif., native enjoyed returning to a ballpark he visited frequently as a fan when he was a kid.

“It’s always special coming here,” Webb said. “Honestly, I wish there was a major-league team here (in Sacramento). I think the city for sure could have one. I think they might have to do a dome because the ball flies a little bit. You see how much the (Sacramento) Kings fans show up and how much River Cats fans show up. I love it here and I’m proud to say I’m from here.”

Though Webb now makes his offseason home in Phoenix, he was happy to get out of Arizona. He finished spring training with an ugly 9.00 ERA in 17 innings (though his K:BB was a healthy 19:2). Although he acknowledges spring training numbers are mostly meaningless, the competitor in him was frustrated with his performance. That said, he feels good physically as he heads into his second Opening Day start on Thursday in San Diego.

“My velocity has been good, my shapes have been good, mechanics, everything feels good. I just haven’t had the results that I’ve been looking for,” he said.

Calling this the most talented Giants roster he has played with, Webb says the mid-camp additions of Chapman, Soler and starter Blake Snell brought a new energy to the Giants’ clubhouse.

“I was talking to a couple guys about it and it’s just a different feel this last week or so since we signed Blake,” he said. “I won 107 games with this team and it was pretty special but I really do truly believe in this team. I’m super excited to get this going.”

Extra innings

• The Giants are still weighing their options when it comes to the final spot in the rotation and the middle relief spots in their bullpen. Snell threw three innings on Sunday at the Giants’ minor-league complex in Phoenix and looked good in that outing, Melvin said. The Giants are still figuring out where Snell would get a start as they try to get him ready to join their rotation after signing so late in camp. Whether Snell breaks camp with the team or not, Melvin acknowledged that the Giants will be managing innings carefully for much of their rotation early in the season.

“Especially early in the season, we’re going to have to have some guys in the bullpen that are going to give us more innings,” Melvin said.

• Mason Black got the start for Sacramento in the scrimmage — won by the River Cats 5-1 — but that shouldn’t be read as an indication that he’s lost the battle for the last spot in the Giants’ rotation. Pitching against the Giants gave him another opportunity to compete against big-league hitters. He uncharacteristically struggled with his command in his outing, walking five in 3 2/3 innings, but Black pitched effectively with runners on base, not allowing a run. He struck out one (Jung Hoo Lee) and threw 80 pitches in the outing.

Black has moved through the minor leagues quickly since landing with the Giants in the third round of the 2021 draft. He admitted he felt a little bit like a traitor on Sunday pitching against Giants’ teammates he spent all spring with, but also said it was valuable to get their feedback on his stuff. Black set a goal this spring to challenge hitters more aggressively in the strike zone and despite the five walks Sunday, he finished his spring feeling like he progressed with that goal.

(Photo of Pablo Sandoval: John E. Moore III / Getty Images)

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