The last great on-field moment of Pablo Sandoval’s career came less than three years ago in Kansas City.
The former San Francisco third baseman caught a pop foul for the final out of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. He also scored the decisive run that clinched the Giants’ third title in five years.
After that, Sandoval’s career took a turn for the worse.
The former All-Star hit .245 in his first season with Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal. Sandoval then missed nearly all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
He opened this summer as the Red Sox’s starting third baseman. But two trips to the disabled list and a .212 batting average through 32 games prompted Boston to release Sandoval in the middle of July.
On Friday, the MVP of the 2012 World Series was in the Sacramento lineup at Werner Park, trying to play his way back to the majors with the organization in which he claimed three championships.
Sandoval went 0 for 4 as Omaha downed the River Cats 4-1 behind home runs from Raul Mondesi and Cheslor Cuthbert. Christian Binford scattered seven hits over six innings in his second consecutive win.
San Francisco signed Sandoval to a no-risk minor league contract last month. Boston, however, owes him $17 million for this season and $18 million for each of the two after that, plus a $5 million buyout.
The Giants are hopeful their deal will pan out and Sandoval will be back in the majors soon.
“When the time comes, it will happen,” manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Gate earlier this week. “Right now, we feel it’s still important for him to get at-bats. He has missed a lot of playing time.”
Friday’s game was Sandoval’s ninth with Sacramento. He’s gone 6 for 29 (.207) with a homer.
“The timing is not all the way back yet,” River Cats manager Dave Brundage said. “Time will tell where he’s at. … I think, offensively, he’s showed glimpses of his timing and the ballplayer that he was.”
Sandoval, who turns 31 next Friday, is still having fun. He endeared himself to a local youth team by throwing the youngsters baseballs from third base during batting practice. He later danced near the cage to the music blasting over the sound system before it was his turn to take a few swings.
“I’ve enjoyed having him,” Brundage said. “He’s brought a breath of fresh air. He’s brought some energy. It’s kind of his infectious personality. He bounces around. He goes about his job right.
“I think he enjoys being around the guys, being in the clubhouse and being in the dugout — having his teammates around.”
Sandoval didn’t do much offensively Friday. But the other third baseman in the game homered for the third time in as many outings. Cuthbert, on a rehabilitation assignment, hit a solo shot in the fifth inning.
“Here’s a guy who was an everyday player last year when (Mike Moustakas) was hurt. And this year, he was getting in one or maybe two days a week,” Omaha manager Brian Poldberg said. “As a young hitter, it’s hard to hit when you’re used to playing every day. … He’s just starting to feel comfortable again.”
Four of Cuthbert’s 12 hits in two stints with the Storm Chasers have been home runs.