Giants release fan favorite Pablo Sandoval from his minor league deal

San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval gestures to fans after taking the field during the sixth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants released infielder Pablo Sandoval from his minor league contract on Thursday, hours before season opener against the San Diego Padres.

That ended Sandoval's attempt at a third stint with the club. He batted .250 in 28 spring at-bats with two RBIs.

The 37-year-old Sandoval — a fan favorite nicknamed Kung Fu Panda who was the 2012 World Series MVP — was trying to get back to the big leagues for the first time since 2021, when he batted .178 with a .302 on-base percentage, four homers and 11 RBIs in 69 games with the Atlanta Braves.

Sandoval is a two-time All-Star who played for the Giants’ 2010, 2012 and 2014 championship teams.

Sandoval played for the Giants from 2008-14 before signing a $95 million, five-year contract with the Boston Red Sox, who released him in the summer of 2017. Sandoval then rejoined the Giants for a second stint from 2017-20. He was with the Braves from 2020-21.

The Giants released him in September 2020 after he’d come back in the spring from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow from September 2019. That year, then-manager Bruce Bochy — a father figure to the Venezuelan slugger — gave him one last at-bat despite the injury in what turned out to be his San Francisco farewell.

Sandoval has a .278 batting average, .330 on-base percentage, .443 slugging percentage, 153 homers and 639 RBIs in 1,380 career regular-season games while primarily playing third base.

Sandoval has batted .338 with a .921 OPS in 42 postseason games, including a .426 average and 1.162 OPS in 12 World Series contests.

Also Thursday, the Giants included recently signed left-hander Blake Snell on their opening day roster. Manager Bob Melvin said he's not sure when Snell will make his first start but that he will throw Friday at the team's spring training complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. Snell won the 2023 NL Cy Young Award with the Padres before leaving as a free agent.