SAN FRANCISCO Pablo Sandoval strode through the clubhousewith a huge smile, a loud whistle and no apologies.
He had just learned he was elected the NLs starting third baseman for the NLAll-Star team, sacking the Mets David Wright as Giants fans stuffed the ballotbox with an unrelenting deluge of votes in the final week.
Wright ranks second in the NL with a 1.013 OPS and a .355batting average. Meanwhile, Sandoval has posted productive numbers but missed40 games with a fractured left hand.
Nobody in a Giants uniform could come out and say that Sandovaldeserves to start over Wright. But they couldnt claim the opposite, either.
These fans of ours, they love their players, Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy said. Theyre passionate and they came out in full force.You look at what David Wright has done hes having an incredible year andPablos missed some time. But hes got some good numbers, too.
No doubt, its all because of these fans. They came out innumbers and got it done.
Entering the final week of online voting, Wright had nearly2.7 million votes and held an edge over Sandoval that exceeded 400,000. Butwhen the final totals were announced Sunday, Sandoval powered his way to a 1.6million vote landslide victory. He finished with 5,743,542 to Wrights4,133,380.
A bit awkward? Yes. But it didnt diminish Sandovals gleeupon winning.
The Kung Fu Panda acknowledged Wrights remarkable season.
Hes having a great year, said Sandoval, who is batting.316 with six home runs and 25 RBIs. Im surprised I made it because I thinkhes had a great year. But the fans give you great support. They give you apush.
I just say thank you to the fans. I focus on playing mygame and you see what happens. When youre having fun, then your dreams cancome true.
Its the second time that Sandoval made the All-Star teamdespite missing more than a month with a hamate fracture. Last year, he was alate selection to the NL team by Bochy as an injury replacement.
Last year I was a backup guy, Sandoval said. This yearits going to be different.
Sandoval said he had no idea until he arrived at theballpark and received the news.
I just keep praying and my fingers crossed, he said. Imhappy I made it. Every moment, Im excited with this organization. They gave methe opportunity to be here.
Its been a trying first half for Sandoval, who dealt withthe frustration of fracturing the hamate in his left hand one year after havingthe same surgery to remove the bone in his right hand.
Club officials continue to keep on him about his wellpublicized weight issues, although he has responded by slimming down in recentweeks.
Sandoval also remains the subject of a sexual assaultinvestigation by the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs Department, which is in thefinal stages of completion. Sandovals attorney, Eric Geffon, said he andSandoval continue to cooperate with detectives but that his client committed nocriminal acts.