HomeTeamsGiantsWas Adding Pablo Sandoval a Spring Training Publicity Stunt?

Was Adding Pablo Sandoval a Spring Training Publicity Stunt?

Spring Training attendance across both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are down close to 1 million fans from the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In Spring Training 2015, 4,025,874 fans attended; in 2016, the MLB drew 4,024 927 fans; in 2023, Spring Training had only 3,175,704 fans. This major decline in attendance is not good for the growth of MLB or for tourism in Arizona and Florida. Spring Training has always been a great way to escape the cold and get an early start to baseball season. The Cactus League is much different than the Grapefruit League in that all of the teams are less than an hour away from Phoenix, whereas in Florida, the teams are spread out all throughout the state.

Last year in the Bay Bridge Series right after Spring Training, the Giants decided to sign Sergio Romo to a 1-day contract and let him pitch an inning. Sergio Romo retired at the end of the 2022 season and came off his couch when the Giants called to pitch him this idea for a tribute against the A’s. The March 26th, 2023 exhibition Bay Bridge Series game with the A’s in Oakland only drew 11,325 fans, whereas the Sergio Romo game the next day in San Francisco drew 30,254 fans. The last two years of the Bay Bridge Series in San Francisco and Oakland were the 2017 and 2018 seasons. In 2017, the Giants’ home game only had 10,148 more fans than in Oakland, and in 2018, the Giants’ home game only had 11,446 more fans than Oakland. There is no question that having Sergio Romo pitch an inning created a buzz and made more people curious to attend the game, with an 18,929 fan gap in attendance in 2023.

On February 19th, it was announced that 37-year-old Pablo Sandoval would be returning to the Giants on a minor league deal and as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training. The first thoughts that came to mind is that this feels very similar to the Sergio Romo publicity ceremony, will be a great way to sell more tickets to Spring Training games, and finally sell out all of the remaining Panda Beanie Hats that are still in storage. The Giants are a business at the end of the day, and adding a fan favorite and legend to spice up the Spring Training roster was a brilliant move. This headline created a buzz and curiosity amongst fans about whether Sandoval can still play. In his first game against the Cubs on February 25th, Pablo was the DH and batted 5th. Pablo had three plate appearances Sunday where he grounded out to the pitcher in his first at-bat, then struck out in the 4th inning, and lastly worked a walk in the 7th, where Sabol quickly came in the game to pinch run. It wasn’t an amazing first game, but it will serve as a great leader to younger players for the time being. It remains to be seen if Sandoval will feature at 3B in any of the Spring Training games and if he somehow stays with the organization for an extended period of time.


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