Ever wonder what Pablo Sandoval is up to these days? Maybe sipping a drink on a tropical island somewhere (with $116 million in career earnings, he can certainly pull that off) or watching the NLCS on a projector screen in his fully-equipped man cave?
Guess again. The portly 34-year-old is still in the major leagues. In fact, the fan favorite even made a cameo Monday night in Game 1 of the NLCS, reaching base on a hit-by-pitch in an eighth-inning plate appearance in the Braves’ 5-1 victory over the top-seeded Dodgers.
This proved to be an eye-opening experience for many as Sandoval’s stealth signing with Atlanta last month flew largely under the radar. Even plugged-in reporters like Andy McCullough and Mark Feinsand had NO IDEA the Braves employed the former World Series MVP.
A .279 lifetime hitter who won three World Series as a member of the Giants, Sandoval was included on the Braves’ Wild Card and NLDS rosters against the Reds and Marlins respectively, but didn’t appear in either series. In fact, the two-time All-Star hadn’t seen the diamond in over two weeks prior to Monday night’s surprise unveiling.
While many were surprised to see manager Brian Snitker call on Sandoval in such a high-leverage spot—particularly on the heels of a 15-day layoff—the switch-hitting veteran has always been a strong playoff performer, owning a .344 career average across 154 postseason at-bats.
Seeing Sandoval thrive—if getting plunked and cleanly scooping his lone grounder at third base qualifies as thriving—on the October stage is what fall baseball is all about. Long live the Kung Fu Panda in all his beefy, 268-pound glory.