SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Casey McGehee knows how much Pablo Sandoval meant to the Giants and the city of San Francisco. Even living across the country in Miami, he understood the affinity for the Kung Fu Panda in his native Bay Area.
After a comeback year for the Marlins sparked by a season in Japan to find himself and his swing, McGehee insists he will stick to what he does best. He realizes he's a different player than the big personality he will be replacing.
"Obviously Pablo was a tremendous Giant. It's no secret how the people in San Francisco feel about him," McGehee said Saturday, a day after the trade sending him to the World Series champions was completed.
"I'm not going to do the same things Pablo does. There's some things he does better than I do and there's some things I may do better than he does. I think I'd be foolish to go in and think I'm going to step into Pablo's shoes and completely replace him. He's one of those guys, with what he's done, is never going to be forgotten or completely replaced in San Francisco," he said.
Once McGehee heard the Marlins had acquired Martin Prado earlier Friday from the New York Yankees, he began thinking of the teams looking for a third baseman and instantly hoped the Giants would emerge as a suitor for his services. They acted immediately, and the Marlins are receiving a pair of minor league right-handers from San Francisco in Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo.
The 32-year-old McGehee won NL comeback player of the year honors after hitting .287 with 29 doubles, four home runs and 76 RBIs for Miami following a season with the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.
Manager Bruce Bochy said he could pencil in McGehee from cleanup to fifth or sixth in the batting order, saying he's a smarter hitter now than in recent years when he hit more home runs.
"I couldn't have been more thrilled, a great fit for us with what he can do with the bat. Casey has done such a good job of getting his career back on track," Bochy said. "I think he's going to be a great fit in that clubhouse the way he plays the game, and that's playing the game right and playing it hard."
McGehee is eager to do his part to bring another championship to the Giants. Sandoval won three titles in five years before departing last month to the Boston Red Sox on a $95 million, five-year contract.
There's some added motivation for McGehee returning to Northern California. He was born in Santa Cruz and attended Fresno State University.
"Yesterday was a pretty crazy day. Wasn't expecting to have as busy of a day as I had. Now that I've had a night to sleep on it, I've found myself walking around with a smile on my face," McGehee said. "I couldn't be more happy, not only being in an organization that has had the success that they've had in the last little while but also this is a chance for me to get back home. One of the things I'm most excited is being able to finally share some of my career and my journey close to home with my family, my friends."
McGehee had 23 homers and 104 RBIs for Milwaukee in 2010, but he went away from what was working — saying suddenly wanted to go from 20-homer seasons to hitting 35.
"When I try to do too much," he said, "it doesn't usually work out well. ... It took me a little while to get back to trusting my approach."
He returned to the big leagues from Japan and "I had my confidence back. I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder."
Now, he will try to build off his rebound season playing at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park, where he is yet to clear the fences.
After seeing Sandoval leave and missing out on signing left-hander Jon Lester, finding McGehee to fill a key position has taken a burden off general manager Brian Sabean. He has long admired McGehee from afar.
"I'm relieved that third base is spoken for," Sabean said. "Things really accelerated at a fast pace yesterday where we knew he was the right choice. Coming back from Japan, he had a breakout year for Florida in the middle of the order."
The Giants have had conversations with pitcher James Shields but not ace Max Scherzer, nor do they plan to, Sabean said.