- Getty Images file photo
- Eye on the ball: Pablo Sandoval underwent laser surgery on his left eye in November and says his vision has improved, which could help his batting performance.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Last year, the talk surrounding Pablo Sandoval was how much better he looked.
This year, it’s about how much better he sees.
Sandoval underwent laser surgery on his left eye in November. Comfort was his main motivation, but there was another benefit.
“I am seeing the ball better,” he said. “I see everything better. Everything is clearer.”
Sandoval went 1-for-4 Tuesday in the Giants’ 4-3 loss against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Sandoval said he wanted to undergo surgery because he disliked wearing contacts.
“They bothered my eyes,” he said. “My eyes would get dry.”
The improved vision in his left eye, the lead eye when he bats right-handed, might help the switch-hitting Sandoval improve against left-handed pitchers, although he’s never been terrible against them. He has a .295 batting average as a right-handed batter against lefties.
Still, his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was .215 lower against left-handers than his OPS against right-handers in 2011.
Even hitting right-handed, Sandoval, 25, represented one of the few bright spots in the Giants’ batting order last season. Overall, he batted .315 with 23 homers and 70 RBIs during a season in which the team slumped at the plate, scoring 570 runs. That total was 127 fewer than the Giants scored in 2010 on the way to winning the World Series.
So far this spring, Sandoval has started slowly, hitting .231 in 39 at-bats, but veterans’ stats in exhibition games seldom mean much to managers and coaches.
“We’re looking for a similar year out of Sandoval to what he had last year,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Last year was a nice bounce-back season for him. We’re not looking for him to try to over-do it or anything like that.”
The main negative in Sandoval’s performance last season was there wasn’t enough of it. He had 466 plate appearances, down from more than 600 in each of the previous two seasons.
He broke the hamate bone in his right hand in late April and missed six weeks. Later he suffered a strain in his left shoulder. Although surgery was considered, Sandoval recovered without it.
“The shoulder feels fine,” he said. “Everything feels fine.”
NOTES: Giants starter Barry Zito went five innings Tuesday, allowing seven hits, three runs [all earned] with four walks and three strikeouts. Zito’s ERA this spring is 4.50 in 14 innings “I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Barry this spring,” Bochy said. “He made some adjustments today, did a nice job.” ... Eric Surkamp (2-1, 4.76 ERA) is the Giants’ scheduled starter today against Cleveland in Goodyear. The Indians’ scheduled starter is Kevin Slowey (0-2, 5.63). ... The Giants entered Tuesday’s game leading the majors in stolen bases with 24. However, they had been caught 13 times for a so-so success rate of 64.8 percent.