Sandoval return to Giants is official: ‘I learned my lesson’

Updated 11:01 pm, Saturday, July 22, 2017

Pablo Sandoval is getting another opportunity and saying all the right things. He’s making apologies, praising his old (and new) team and his old (and new) fans and vowing to help the Giants win games this season.

“I learned my lesson,” Sandoval said.

Will he learn how to produce again on the baseball field? That’s what matters most.

Sandoval, who won three World Series rings in San Francisco and was the 2012 World Series MVP, finalized his minor-league contract with the Giants on Saturday, then headed to Class A San Jose to begin his comeback bid.

Manager Bruce Bochy said the third baseman will spend a couple of weeks in the minors — he’ll report to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday — and get 40 to 50 at-bats to show if he has anything left.

“To be here with a second chance, it’s special,” Sandoval said in the home dugout before the Giants beat the Padres 5-4 in 12 innings. “I’ve had a lot of special moments here, the greatest moments in my career. Having a second chance is the most important thing. I’m looking forward to it.”

Why the Giants?

“Three World Series,” Sandoval said. “Three rings. Dynasty. Chemistry. Fan support. What else? The team. The manager. Teammates. Everything. I grew up here, and now I’ve got my second chance.”

Bochy insisted the signing was entirely a baseball decision amid speculation that it could be a marketing ploy or even a favor to the man who made the franchise a lot of money, not just with the sale of Panda hats.

Sandoval was either injured or ineffective (or both) during most of his 2½ seasons with the Red Sox, who signed him after the 2014 World Series to a five-year, $95 million contract.

If Sandoval returns to the big leagues, the Giants would be on the hook for only the prorated portion of the major-league minimum.

“We’re looking for anybody who could help us win ballgames,” Bochy said. “We’ve had a rough year this year. This is pretty much a free look at a player who’s done some good things here, and if he could help us get on track, it’s a good thing.

“We’ll find out in a couple of weeks where he’s at as far as where his skills are. No, this is strictly (about) baseball. It’s got nothing to do with anything else.”

Out the door, Sandoval wasn’t at all gracious. He was upset with contract negotiations early in 2014, said he knew all season he would leave and told Bleacher Report in spring training 2015 that the only Giants he’d miss would be Hunter Pence and Bochy.

Asked about those comments Saturday, Sandoval said Bochy and Pence are “the guys I joke around with the most. Hunter is like my brother. Bochy is like my dad. At the end of the day, I miss all the guys, I miss all the team. The fan support was the greatest. It’s everything. Miscommunication, yes. But at the end of the day, I was emotional. I learned a lot of things from that. I learned my lesson.”

Sandoval, who placed his Red Sox bag in a locker between Brandon Belt’s and Brandon Crawford’s, said he’s apologizing to Giants’ players and also released a statement through the team:

“I have always loved and appreciated the Giants organization, my Giants teammates and the fans of San Francisco. I have so many great memories, and I want to thank the organization for giving me another chance to come back here. When I left the Giants in 2014, my comments were emotional, insensitive and misguided, and I truly regret and apologize for my actions. I am committed to working hard to contributing to the success of the Giants.”

Sandoval went as far as saying he regrets not re-signing with the Giants after the ’14 Series.

“I wish I could get back to that time to have that opportunity to sign again. I would sign,” Sandoval said. “It’s passed. I’m moving forward to do the best. I’m just looking forward to being back here and showing them what I can do.”

A two-week stint in the minors would extend to August, following the trade deadline. By that time, third baseman Eduardo Nuñez could be on another team.

With third baseman-of-the-future Christian Arroyo shelved with a wrist injury, suddenly Sandoval in a Giants uniform again — something that couldn’t have been imagined just days ago — is realistic.

John Shea is The San Francisco Chronicle’s national baseball writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @JohnSheaHey


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