San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval recently came back from an injury to his hand.  The injury kept Sandoval out of the lineup for over a month. 

Prior to the injury, Sandoval was having a marvelous year hitting 0.313, 5 homeruns, with a OPS of 0.904 in just 25 games.  He was showing that the work he put into his summer fitness program had turned his play around completely from a bad 2010 season. 

Sandoval was well on his way to the All-Star team before the injury.

In fact, the recently released fan voting for the All-Star team has Pablo Sandoval in a surprising third place at 1,029,380 votes, exactly 792,749 votes behind first place Phillies' Placido Palanco (1,822,129 votes) and Atlanta Braves Chipper Jones (1,197,332 votes). 

The All-Star game is set for July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.  That means Sandoval has approximately one month to continue his hot hitting in order to convince fans to put him on the team. 

Pablo Sandoval is already popular with fans who love his Panda persona as well as his potent bat.

In addition, as the World Series Champions, the Giants have built one of the most passionate fan bases in the major leagues, selling out all their home games this season.  The Giants organization and Giants fans are sure to put their own campaign together to get Sandoval on the team.

If Sandoval can get elected to the All-Star team, he would be the first position player beside Barry Bonds, to be elected and start in an All-Star game since catcher Benito Santiago in 2002. 

If Sandoval cannot get elected, he would still have a chance to make the team as a reserve.  Even as a reserve, Sandoval would be the first position player to make the All-Star team for the Giants since Bonds. 

Reserves are chosen by the National League manager, who happens to be Giants manager Bruce Bochy by virtue the Giants' appearance in the World Series last year. 

However, Sandoval would still have to put up solid numbers in order to justify his addition to the team. Last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Sandoval went 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Bochy would no doubt give Sandoval the benefit of the doubt if it came down to a close call for one of the last spots on the team.

Sandoval was in this exact situation in 2009 when he had a good first half of the season.  However, Sandoval fell short in the fan vote for the last spot on the NL team. 

Even after an injury opened up a spot, it came down to Sandoval or Philadelphia Phillies' Shane Victorino.  Since Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was the NL manager at the time, he chose his own player.

Two years later, it would be ironic if it once again came down to Shane Victorino, who is currently seventh in the outfield voting. 

Even if it came down to Sandoval or another Philly like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, or Jimmy Rollins, it would be interesting to see Bochy's decision since baseball managers and players tend to have long memories.

In any case, as the defending World Series champions, Sandoval may be the Giants only hope for a position player appearing in the All-Star game.

The Giants have many pitching candidates that may be voted onto the team by the players including ace Tim Lincecum, starters Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, closer Brian Wilson, and perhaps even Ryan Vogelsong who leads Giants starters in ERA.

However, no position player currently merits an appearance in the All-Star game.  Catcher Buster Posey was the Giants best hope, but he went down with a season-ending injury.  Second baseman Freddy Sanchez also had a good shot, but he went down with an injury as well that could be season-ending.

Aubrey Huff has a chance if he can turn around his batting average which stands currently at 0.235.  His 8 home runs and 34 RBIs are respectable, so another 30-40 points rise in his batting average may justify an addition. 

If it was close between two players, Bochy could make the case that Aubrey Huff's incomparable contributions to the World Series championship last year might give him the edge.   

Giants' outfielder Cody Ross, who missed significant time due to injury, has an outside chance at making the team if he improves his numbers dramatically from his 0.268 average and 5 homeruns in 48 games. 

Barring dramatic improvement from Huff and Ross, Sandoval appears to be the only Giants position player who, if he played to the level he did before the injury, deserves to make the All-Star team.

Will Sandoval be able to continue playing at a high level?  Will Pablo Sandoval make the All-Star Team for San Francisco Giants?