SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pablo Sandoval was listening to Marco Scutaro from a distance. It was the first day of full-team workouts for the Giants and it was 8:30 Wednesday morning and Marco Scutaro was presiding. Master of ceremonies.
He was telling a story in Spanish to 12 — count them — Latin players and they all would burst out laughing at his punch lines. Sandoval was not involved. His locker is off by itself in the middle of the room and he was texting. But he was observing. Listening. In it, but not in it.
Sometimes, Sandoval would laugh and fire something back at Scutaro in Spanish and then he'd lapse into his own world. Sandoval lives in a world of his own making. He is an irreplaceable Giant, but he carries a lonely burden and the burden is about doing his duty.
His duty was to get in shape, is to stay in shape. When he walked around last year with a gut and could not field his position or get around on certain pitchers, he was derelict in his duty even though he is a nice man and jokes with his teammates. The Giants do not need him to joke and laugh. They need him to dominate games.
After a while, I walked over to Sandoval who sat in a chair at his locker. I was with Erwin Higueros from the Giants public relations department because my Spanish is weak and Erwin would facilitate the conversation between Sandoval and me.
“Are you a different hitter now than when you first started?” I asked.
“I do it the same way,” Sandoval said in English, without waiting for Erwin to translate. “I no change anything that I was doing before. I've been the same hitter.”
“Do you have a certain style of hitting?”