SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) – Pablo Sandoval had more than 300 text messages on his phone when he woke up Thursday morning. Players from around major league baseball, including the rival Dodgers’ Matt Kemp, acknowledged his accomplishment on social media. Even Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweeted in Spanish, “There goes the third! Pablo makes history!”
Sandoval’s three World Series swings truly were heard around the globe.
A day after joining Babe Ruth (who did it twice), Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three home runs in a single World Series game, Sandoval soaked in the moment before Game 2. He said he was overwhelmed by the reaction his long balls created from San Francisco to the East Coast to Venezuela and beyond.
“I still can’t believe it,” Sandoval said. “In the morning when I wake up, all the stuff, my friends keep texting me. But, you know, you have to realize what’s going on right now in your life, so you have to keep your head up and keep focused.”
The Kung Fu Panda’s pops highlighted his remarkable turnaround.
The portly third baseman was benched during San Francisco’s 2010 World Series championship run. His production and confidence went down, and his went weight up. Even Giants general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy basically told Sandoval to shape up – or he might be out.
So Sandoval spent that winter running up desert hills in Arizona. He has made the All-Star team the last two season – starting for the first time this July – although his weight remains a testy topic even now, with more questions typically surfacing anytime he slumps.
“Right now we like where he’s at,” Bochy said, drawing laughs.
Pablo’s brother, mentor and workout partner, Mike, was all smiles in AT&T Park’s tunnel after Sandoval’s homers. Sandoval connected twice against Detroit ace Justin Verlander and once off Al Alburquerque to power the Giants past the Tigers 8-3 in Wednesday night’s opener.
“I’ve always been proud of him,” Mike said. “I haven’t seen him have a big moment like this. This one is really special. It’s a blessing and a dream come true.”
“Wow! That’s all I can say,” tweeted Kemp, who used the hash tag “panda.” Even Sandoval’s fellow Venezuelan and former Giants infielder Omar Vizquel was in disbelief watching the third baseman’s homers as a fan in the ballpark.
“Magnifico!” Vizquel said. “What did Pablo eat today? My God.”