Sandoval gracious in Final Vote defeat
Infielder thankful for best efforts of Giants, fans, teammates
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval summarized the results of the Final Vote competition in succinct terms.
"I got the numbers," Sandoval said Thursday. "I didn't get the votes."Sandoval actually received plenty of votes -- enough to lead the National League portion of the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote for the first three days. Ultimately, however, Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino emerged victorious, forcing Sandoval to settle for a respectably close second-place finish. As for the numbers, Sandoval was outhitting Victorino .326 to .308 entering Thursday, outhomering him 13-6 and outdoing him in RBIs, 48-40. Sandoval also outpaced Victorino in on-base percentage, slugging percentage and doubles. "I'm disappointed for Pablo," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It looked good for him." But Sandoval wasn't at all bitter at being denied the final spot on the NL All-Star team. Quite the contrary. "I'm happy," Sandoval said. "For [being in] my first [whole] year in the big leagues, to be in the [Final] Vote, it's too much, you know?" The race between Sandoval and Victorino was an intense one. Between each day's final tallies, they exchanged the lead five times in one of the most spirited elections since the Final Vote's inception seven years ago. Entering Thursday, Sandoval led Victorino by a mere two percentage points. That left Sandoval unable to sleep as he waited the conclusive returns.
"I felt excited," Sandoval said.Despite Victorino's triumph, it was easy for Sandoval to keep feeling upbeat as he reflected on the support he generated from the Giants organization, teammates and fans. "I have to say, 'Thank you,' " Sandoval said. Sandoval, nicknamed "Kung Fu Panda," benefited from an industrious get-out-to-vote drive staged by the Giants. Fans were prompted to click on Sandoval's name by numerous reminders during games at AT&T Park and on broadcasts and telecasts. The Giants also held a "Vote for Pablo" sweepstakes. Club employees, including Sandoval's Giants teammates, tried to top each other in voting for Sandoval. The Giants even reached out to Sandoval's native Venezuela, where a multitude of TV stations aired an interview with the 22-year-old. Sandoval realized how serious the campaign was when he and his family strolled through a downtown shopping mall and noticed somebody wearing a "Vote for Pablo" T-shirt.
Sandoval's reaction: "I can't believe this."Sandoval would have become the first "homegrown" Giants position player to reach the All-Star team since third baseman Matt Williams (1994-96), reflecting the organization's refreshed efforts to strengthen its player development department. Sandoval still could make it to St. Louis for next Tuesday's Midsummer Classic if he's selected to replace an injured All-Star -- such as Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, who remains sidelined with a bruised right knee. Bochy said that he'll probably speak soon to Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel, who'll pilot the NL All-Stars, about the care and feeding of the Giants pitchers on the squad, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Bochy indicated that he would refrain from slipping in an endorsement for adding Sandoval as an injury replacement.
"I certainly don't want to put him in a tough situation," Bochy said.But if the subject arises, it's obvious what Bochy will say about Sandoval. "He certainly deserves to be there," Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.