Odd Panda out: Pablo Sandoval headed for bench role?

UPDATE: He's out.

If you're a San Francisco Giants fan hoping to see less of the Kung Fu Panda, you may be getting your wish.

When asked directly about Pablo Sandoval(notes) and his recent play, manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged he's looking at the possibly of giving Mike Fontenot(notes) a start against Tim Hudson(notes) and the Atlanta Braves in this afternoon's Game 3 at Turner Field.

From the SF Chronicle

"Yeah, we've talked about putting Fontenot in there," Bochy said. "Of course, we'll have to look at Freddy and see how he swings the bat, but yeah, that was discussed and could happen."

The prevailing thought among Giants beat writers is that Fontenot would start at third base if Freddy Sanchez(notes) can start at second. That's turning into a big if, though, as Sanchez was unable to take batting practice on Saturday after taking a Kyle Farnsworth(notes) fastball on his right hand in Friday's Game 2.

If Freddy's condition doesn't improve, Fontenot will slide over to second base leaving Sandoval at third for at least one more game.

Obviously Sanchez's status is a story to watch here, but the bigger story to me is how far Sandoval's stock has fallen this season. In less than 12 months, he has gone from baseball's newest sensation to a real liability.

Six months ago GM Brian Sabean had to believe Sandoval was going to be a guy he could build their offense around — along with Buster Posey(notes) — for years to come. It hasn't panned out that way.

Once pitchers began exploiting Sandoval's lack of plate discipline, his .330 average from 2009 dipped to .268, his homer total was cut in half, and his overall presence at the plate was downgraded from "feared" to "welcomed" — even if the Braves didn't get the memo in Game 1.

Giants fans ran out of patience a long time ago. The final straw for Bruce Bochy could have been any of a number of things from the two games in San Francisco.

• The 1-for-6 with just an infield single.

• The first inning collision with Buster Posey in Game 2.

• The eighth-inning throwing error that led to Atlanta's three-run rally in Game 2.

Take your pick. Or put them all together, add in a terrible .330/.208 regular season home-road split, and I think you'll find enough evidence to justify putting the Panda back in his cage.

By the way, if you own stock in the Panda headgear that is often seen throughout AT&T Park, now might be a good time to sell.

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