By Larry Fine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval said he received 300 text messages after his triple home run night in the World Series opener and a presidential tweet from back home in Venezuela.
Sandoval's power surge triggered the Giants' 8-3 win over the Detroit Tigers and ace Justin Verlander and put him in the company of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to have hit three homers in a World Series game.
One notable fan from Venezuela thought Sandoval was going to go one step beyond.
"The president sent me a tweet yesterday. I still can't believe it," Sandoval said about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez while speaking to reporters before Game Two of the series on Thursday.
"He put a tweet on the three home runs. But when I was hitting the fourth at-bat, he was like, 'I'm just going to say congratulations to Pablo, but I'm just going to see the four homers right now.' So that was funny."
Sandoval put the barrel of the bat on the ball again in his fourth trip to the plate, but did not launch it over the wall, settling for a line-drive single that capped a 4-for-4 night.
"So excited how the people watched, pay attention to all the things in the game, all my friends back home, family, just excited to be part of this," Sandoval said.
"You know, I still can't believe it. In the morning when I wake up, all the stuff, my friends keep texting me. But you know, you have to realize what's going on right now in your life, so you have to keep your head up and keep focused."
'KUNG FU PANDA'
Sandoval, whose stocky build brought him the nickname "Kung Fu Panda," said it was exciting what a banner year in baseball it has been for Venezuelan players.
"I'll be happy for all things happening to Venezuelan players right now, happening in all the careers of the Venezuelans in the big leagues," Sandoval said.
This season, New York pitcher Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter ever for the Mets, Seattle Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez tossed a perfect game and Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first player in 45 years to win the Triple Crown by leading his league in home runs, RBIs and batting average.
"I'm just excited what we do this year," Sandoval said.
Topping all that off is a World Series featuring nine Venezuelan players on the rosters of the Giants and Tigers, including San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro, who won MVP honors in the National League Championship Series.
And, of course, the home run fireworks supplied by Sandoval.
Sandoval said he appreciated a tweet from Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp saying he was amazed by the Giant player's performance.
"One of the best hitters in the big leagues, they send you a tweet, 'that's incredible what you do,'" Sandoval said. "For me it was exciting to see Matt Kemp...sent me a tweet saying that. That means a lot me."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)