Panda coy about future with club

Panda coy about future with club

SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval saluted his fans Sunday but gave them no clues regarding whether he'll be back with the Giants next season.

Sandoval has remained a beloved figure since he broke in as a rookie late in the 2008 season. Not only has he remained a productive hitter, but his genial exterior and rough-and-tumble style of play, which led former pitcher Barry Zito to nickname him the "Kung Fu Panda," captivated fans.

But that act could end. Sandoval, San Francisco's regular third baseman, is eligible for free agency after this season. Despite his slightly underwhelming offensive totals this year, including a .279 batting average with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs, he's expected to command a lucrative multiyear deal.

Sandoval wore an inscrutable smile as he was asked about the possibility that he had donned the cream-colored Giants jersey for the last time. "I'm looking forward to the game Wednesday," he said, referring to the Wild Card Game at Pittsburgh. "I'm not thinking about the last game here."

  Date   Result Highlights
  Oct. 1   SF 8, PIT 0 video

He did salute his legions of supporters, who have helped fill AT&T Park wearing T-shirts bearing his likeness or his number, as well as panda hats that have become a popular souvenir item.

"I love them," Sandoval said. "They've been the best fans for six seasons."

Sandoval expressed enthusiasm about the upcoming showdown against the Pirates, which is essentially a Game 7 since the winner advances to the Division Series and the loser goes home. "It's going to be a new experience for me," said Sandoval, the Most Valuable Player of the 2012 World Series.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.