November 12, 2009
In his first full season, Giants slugger Pablo Sandoval(notes) batted .330, which was second in the National League, and slugged .557, which was sixth. In 787 career plate appearances so far, the 23-year-old is batting .333 with a .924 OPS.
Put your money on Kung Fu Panda being even better next season than he was in 2009.
Sandoval, you see, already started spring training 2010 at the Giants' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Nov. 1. He was roughly 3 1/2 months early. Why?
Sandoval put up those gaudy numbers despite carrying way too much weight for a person listed at 5-foot-11 and (generously) 245 pounds. So, Panda wants to slim down into a leaner, not-so-mean hitting machine.
In a tremendous post by Giants' blogger Joan Ryan (also the author of "Little Girls in Pretty Boxes"), she goes into fine detail about Sandoval's recent lifestyle changes, a diet and exercise regimen that Giants trainer Dave Groeschner calls unprecedented for the club.
It's called: "Operation Panda." Of course it is.
"There are no guys who show up in November to get ready for the season,'' Groeschner said. "But this is something Pablo wanted to do."
Sandoval is being helped by his brother Michael, who is taking the same steps right alongside.
With the five pounds he lost during the past week, Sandoval has lost 10 pounds so far, on his way toward his goal of slimming down and building muscle for the 2010 season. (Michael is participating in every workout, working right alongside his brother, and he has lost 10 pounds, too.)
"I love this team and the way they treat me,'' Sandoval says later in the afternoon, after he finishes about 10 minutes of alternating between warm and cold tubs to minimize muscle soreness.
"The fans, I love them and want them to know I'll always be the guy who's working hard. I know I have to lose weight so I can play this game for a long time.''
Sandoval's vows must excite Giants fans, but they ought to be inspirational for anybody trying — or ready to try — to lose weight. Or just make the most of his or her life. There's something all of us could take from Sandoval's effort.
Who else can't wait for spring training to start? Hey, it already has! Thanks, Venezuela Panda!