Operation Panda 2: Giants' Sandoval tries to slim down again

The word on the street is that Pablo Sandoval(notes) is working out diligently, has lost weight and is on his way to being in better shape for the upcoming season.

Henry Schulman reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that former teammate Rich Aurilia(notes) saw Sandoval at a Phoenix-area mall around Christmastime, and Kung Fu Panda told him he had dropped 17 pounds working out at a private facility in Arizona.

Schulman also writes that Jose Alguacil, a Giants instructor who has worked with Sandoval on defense, said Panda is about 20 pounds lighter as of Christmas Day.

Of course, the San Francisco Giants have heard this before.

The previous offseason began with Sandoval participating in Operation Panda, an exercise and weight-loss program designed to trim him down so he could do his best Kung Fu on the rest of the NL.

[Rewind: NFL star's extreme diet plan]

Alas, Sandoval's shape seemed pretty round by the time spring training rolled around. His offense and defense declined in 2010, he lost his starting job to Juan Uribe(notes) and, even after the Giants won the World Series, was threatened by the front office with demotion to the minor leagues.

Not Fresno!

"Hopefully he's doing well because he's (like) our new free agent," coach Shawon Dunston said. "If he gets back to his 2009 form, watch out."

There's dinner-plate discipline and then there's discipline at the plate. Sandoval's troubles have gone both ways.

Sandoval swung at nearly 45 percent of the pitches he saw that were outside the strike zone in 2010. Only Vladimir Guerrero(notes) swung at a higher percentage. And few players have been able to get away with Vlad's style.

[Rewind: NBA player tries out Jenny Craig]

As Schulman points out:

His even freer-swinging approach at the plate contributed to his statistical nosedive last season, and that cannot be addressed in a gym. Neither can his dietary habits, which he must manage throughout the season.

But slimming his body was Priority 1, and Alguacil said, "He's very serious about his job right now."

Based on Sandoval's comments at the mall, Aurilia said, "He seemed really in tune this year on keeping the weight off as opposed to last season. Sometimes a lack of success is a good tool to get you motivated."

Taking weight off is hard. Keeping it off is even harder. Changing one's approach at the plate? That's a lot on anyone's plate for one offseason. Best of luck to the Panda.

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