Braves, unlike Red Sox fans, cheer Pablo Sandoval as DH

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Braves notebook

The Braves won’t need a designated hitter often this season, only for their 10 games in American League stadiums, but they’re happy to have Pablo Sandoval available for the role.

Otherwise mostly limited to one at-bat per game as a pinch-hitter, Sandoval got four ABs – and three hits, all singles – as the Braves’ DH at Boston on Tuesday and was back in the lineup in the same role for Wednesday night’s series finale.

The games marked Sandoval’s return to Fenway Park, where he disappointed after signing a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox as a free agent in November 2014. A three-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants earlier in his career, Sandoval hit .245 for Boston in 2015, missed almost all of the 2016 season with injury and was hitting .212 when the Red Sox released him in July 2017, eating the nearly $50 million remaining on his contract.

Those numbers explain the boos from the Fenway Park crowd each time Sandoval stepped to the plate Tuesday – and each time he reached base with a hit.

If he heard the boos, they didn’t faze him.

“I’m happy,” he said of how he felt about returning to Boston. “It’s one of those things I was looking forward (to). They don’t treat me that bad here. Great fan support, great organization. I guess things don’t go well sometime, and I’m happy to be back and … try to help my team to win games.”

Sandoval’s three hits Tuesday raised his batting average for the season to .286. He is 5-for-24 (.208) as a pinch-hitter, but has an MLB-high four home runs, 10 RBIs and four walks in that role. In five games as a DH through Tuesday, he is 7-for-17 (.412). He has played in only one game in the field, that at first base.

Days after he was cut loose by the Red Sox in 2017, Sandoval rejoined the Giants and remained there in a third base/first base/pinch-hitter role until he was released late last season. The Braves then signed him to a minor-league contract and had him on their postseason roster. They re-signed him to another minor-league deal in the offseason, and he won a spot on the 2021 team, somewhat surprisingly, by hitting .400 in 19 spring training games.

“I wanted to be back here … (after) that little taste last year,” Sandoval, 34, said.

He has become extremely popular among teammates, lauded for his knowledge of the game and preparation, as well as for his leadership in the clubhouse.

“He’s a glue guy,” pitcher Charlie Morton said. “He’s a guy that reaches across, like, cultures and languages. He keeps the team together, and he’s doing a heck of a job. He’s a lot of fun in the clubhouse, just a good guy. So getting the chance to play with him, getting the chance to play with guys like that, it’s really special.”

Braves notes:

- In his past two starts, Morton has allowed five hits and two runs (one earned) in 13 innings, dropping his ERA from 5.08 to 3.98. He struck out 17 and walked two in those starts. He credits some mechanical adjustments for improving his curveball. “The thing I’ve been trying to do is just get my momentum and my energy going a little bit more toward home plate,” Morton said. “That also has helped me with my other pitches.”

- Manager Brian Snitker said the Braves’ full bullpen was available for Wednesday’s game after Chris Martin was unavailable Tuesday.