<
>
Insider

The keys to Pablo Sandoval's success

Hampered by illness, Pablo Sandoval still managed to smack two pivotal hits in Game 4. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO -- The great thing about working with Pablo Sandoval, says San Francisco Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, is that no matter the situation, he possesses a relentless optimism. He is upbeat. He is convinced he will figure out a way to succeed.

This trait served him well Saturday, because he had plenty of reason to be miserable. Sandoval had been one of the unlucky souls who contracted the bug that has been going through the San Francisco clubhouse in recent days, from Tim Lincecum to Michael Morse, and as he completed batting practice before Game 4, Sandoval explained through stuffed sinuses how awful he had been feeling, how he had been throwing up the night before, how he had been administered IV fluids. Sandoval was breathing through his mouth because of how congested he was.

Carrying his bat, Sandoval turned to bench coach Ron Wotus, who was in the midst of hitting ground balls to infielders, and started to explain to Wotus why he hadn’t taken his share. Wotus nodded, and encouraged Sandoval to go to the clubhouse. “Save it for the game,” Wotus said.

Sandoval did that, found a quiet place, and slept. “A power nap,” Sandoval said later. When he awoke about 30 to 45 minutes later, he felt better, and he was able to go through his typical pregame preparation that served him well in Game 4.

Sandoval is a switch hitter who has struggled from the right side of the plate this year, but Meulens and manager Bruce Bochy believe that Sandoval’s struggles as a right-handed hitter this season are simply explained: He just doesn’t get as many reps against left-handed pitching as he does against right-handed pitching, a common problem for switch-hitters.

But before every game, Meulens says, Sandoval has made a point of going into the indoor batting cage and taking some right-handed swings against a left-handed batting practice pitcher.