Sandoval drops pounds, gains playing time

MESA, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval has proven that he would rather play baseball than eat.

Sandoval informed Giants manager Bruce Bochy of his desire to play every day, since that would supplement his physical conditioning. Bochy responded with a challenge to Sandoval, whose weight has remained a perennial issue: Shed pounds, and you'll play.

"We had a deal," Bochy said Sunday. "He had to get to a certain area before I would play him. To his credit, he did."

Bochy would not specify Sandoval's target weight, current weight or the amount he was asked to lose. Nevertheless, Bochy said, "He's doing what I've asked, and that's drop a few pounds."

As a result, Sandoval is San Francisco's only projected regular to appear in the field in the team's first two exhibitions. First baseman Brandon Belt also has played in both games but was the designated hitter in Saturday's Cactus League opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

Sandoval, named the Most Valuable Player in the Venezuelan Winter League postseason, has stayed hot at the plate. He's 3-for-5 in the Giants' first two Cactus League exhibitions.

The third baseman's next challenge will be maintaining a decent weight while he's performing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, away from the influence of the Giants' athletic training staff.