Sandoval could miss Fan Fest Saturday with illness

Sandoval could miss Fan Fest Saturday with illness
February 8, 2013, 1:30 pm
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Pablo Sandoval played in 108 games for the Giants last year, earning his second All-Star bid. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

It's time to bear down on the conditioning part, get a few pounds off.
—Bruce Bochy

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a year in which Pablo Sandoval won the World Series and was MVP, won his Venezuelan professional league and was MVP, and judged the Miss Universe Pageant, you would expect him to be the No. 1 attraction at Giants Fan Fest, which takes place Saturday at AT&T Park.

The only problem? He might not be there.

"He has a bug," manager Bruce Bochy revealed to members of the media Friday at AT&T Park. "He was pretty sick this morning. Instead of getting the rest of us sick, we got him out of here."

Giants senior director of media relations Jim Moorehead called it a bad head cold with congestion and confirmed Sandoval -- who was originally scheduled to greet the fan base Saturday -- is in jeopardy of missing the event.

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training next Tuesday and Sandoval is expected to arrive early to begin his conditioning program. For the Giants' 5-foot-11 third baseman, the story will orbit around a familiar subject -- his weight. Both general manager Brian Sabean and Bochy agree, he could shed a few.

"He does need to get in better shape, from the overall sense," said Sabean, who saw Sandoval for the first time this offseason Friday morning.

"More than anything now," Bochy added, "It's time to bear down on the conditioning part, get a few pounds off."

Sandoval, 26, is plenty familiar with the message. It's been repeated to him since he debuted for the Giants in 2008.

What hasn't been repeated is Sandoval's 2012 feat. He became the first-ever Venezuelan to win the World Series MVP, launching him into a new echelon of local stardom. Despite Sandoval's newly-enjoyed fame, his teammates aren't concerned it's going to his head.

"There's one thing about Pablo," Ryan Vogelsong said. "He's pretty much the same guy every day -- some days goofier than others -- but Pablo never seems to change.

And if Vogelsong's premonitions prove incorrect?

"If it does get to his head," Vogelsong continued. "We've got plenty of guys in the locker room that will tell him. That's one of the great things about our locker is that we're pretty close knit, as everyone knows by now. We're all great friends in there."

Vogelsong, who will represent the United States in the World Baseball Classic, could end up staring down his great friend Sandoval should their teams advance from to the second round. The prospect of such a scenario elicited a smile from Bochy.

"I look forward to some matchups," said Bochy. "Jeremy (Affeldt) against Pablo or Vogelsong against (Marco) Scutaro or (Angel) Pagan or someone. We'll have fun with it."

In order to have fun with it, the team will need to make sure their WBC participants are in game-shape and not at risk for injury. They plan to.

"By the time (Sandoval) goes off for the WBC," Sabean assured, "We'll get him all worked out."

Sandoval, entering the second season of his three-year, $17.15 million contract with the Giants, plans to represent his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Pool C action begins in Puerto Rico on March 7, giving the team less than a month to make good on Sabean's word.

AT&T Park will host the WBC semifinals and finals from March 17-19, so if Venezuela makes it out of the second round, Giants fans will get a first-hand look at the svelte Sandoval.

"I think he's going to be fine playing down there and playing a full year this year," said Bochy, who is a fan of position players playing winter ball. "That's how much this guys loves the game.

"I'd rather him be out playing baseball in the winter than what could be the alternatives."

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