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Pablo Sandoval and 'Operation Panda'

Nov 12, 2009 – 4:15 PM
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Matt Snyder

Matt Snyder %BloggerTitle%

Pablo SandovalIf Pablo Sandoval took a month or two off after the season to enjoy himself before working back into game shape, no one would have blamed him. After all, the rotund 22-year-old slugger blossomed into a star in just his first full season at the major league level. He hit .330 with 25 home runs and 90 RBI. His OPS of .943 was incredible for a player so young and without much lineup protection.

Apparently, Sandoval wasn't satisfied, though. He hasn't been resting, nor does he plan to. In fact, he's going through an intense training regimen in which he intends to lose a significant amount of weight and build muscle instead of fat. Naturally, it's been dubbed "Operation Panda."
"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.''
Believe this: Sandoval has never lifted weights before in his life until this offseason. He's teaming with a nutrition professor at Arizona State University and eating a special diet. He's riding more stationary bikes and running more than he ever has.

It's not that Sandoval was morbidly obese or anything. Far from it. At an estimated 5-foot-11, 245 pounds, Sandoval was simply a bit thicker than most major league players. It didn't hold him back at the plate in 2009, either, as many National League pitchers would attest.

Thus far, Operation Panda has already helped Sandoval drop 10 pounds. It's only Nov. 12, so there's a long way to go this offseason. He reportedly plans to continue hitting everything this hard throughout the entire offseason. That means we shouldn't be surprised to see Sandoval show up at spring training with a lot more muscle and a lot less fat than last season.

When that happens, it only means good news for the Giants and bad news for the rest of baseball. We've already seen Sandoval's physical tools and know they can translate to superstardom. Now, we're seeing that he has the mentality to match.

It would appear the Giants have their offensive centerpiece for a long time -- even if he's a bit slimmer than they imagined.
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