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SAN FRANCISCO — If you even mention Pablo Sandoval as a possible Red Sox next season, Giants fans get awfully squeamish.

They believe the Giants will step up and sign Kung Fu Panda and keep him away from suitors such as Boston, Miami, the Dodgers, and others.

Losing him would be a tough one to swallow.

The Giants know Sandoval better than anyone. They have gone through his weight issues over the years, but they also know of his being tremendous in the clutch, particularly in the postseason, when he's a career .322 hitter with 9 doubles, 6 homers, and 16 RBIs in 30 games.

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He entered Game 4 of the National League Championship Series Wednesday night against the Cardinals having reached base in 21 consecutive postseason games.

He's the guy who drew out that 18-inning marathon Game 2 vs. Washington in the NLDS with an opposite-field double to drive in the tying run in the ninth inning after Nationals manager Matt Williams inexplicably took the unhittable Jordan Zimmermann out of the game.

According to a team source, the Giants don't feel comfortable offering more than three years.

That could change, though, depending on what happens the rest of the postseason. All signs point to the free agent eventually getting a five-year deal.

While the Red Sox would have to consider whether his weight would affect his play at third base, they also like the fact that he's only 28 and entering his prime hitting years.

The switch hitter is much better from the left side, which is what the Red Sox need at the moment.

Sandoval has not wanted to speak about his future during the playoffs, but he has told friends Boston would be a preferred destination.

Big Papi and Kung Fu Panda?

Pretty good marketing possibility.

And when David Ortiz retires, Sandoval would seem to fit the designated hitter spot.

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And even though the bigger Sandoval gets, the less range he shows at third base, he's capable of making plays via his quick reflexes, as he did in Game 3 of the NLCS, although he's not as good coming in on the ball.

Wainwright ready

The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright believes he's worked out some mechanical issues and his balky elbow feels fine for his Game 5 start on Thursday when he'll oppose Madison Bumgarner in a Game 1 rematch. A.J. Pierzynski, who helped him detect a flaw with his hands in his delivery, likely will catch him in Game 5.

In two starts with Pierzynski behind the plate, Wainwright had a 5.11 ERA and opponents hit .298 off him.

"He calls a very good game," Wainwright said of Pierzynski. "He always has called a very good game. He's called a couple no-hitters and been a world champion. He's a big, wide target. So we like throwing to A.J. He's a good competitor. He wants to win, and you know, he's drawn to the end of his career and he wants to go out a winner."

"He still has a few good years left, too, probably. Hopefully we'll get him a ring this year, but we are all comfortable with A.J."

Molina not in swing

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, who is out with a left oblique strain, has not been able to swing the bat with any consistency. "He tried taking a few swings and it didn't feel real great, as expected," manager Mike Matheny said. Molina is able to catch and throw and Matheny is still not ruling out his coming in for Pierzynski defensively, though Matheny thinks Pierzynski did a good job catching John Lackey in Game 3 . . . Incoming commissioner Rob Manfred attended the game . . . A smiling Barry Bonds, on crutches after hip surgery, threw out the first pitch . . . The Giants entered Game 4 having hit only two home runs in 80 innings . . . The Giants are 28-11 in the postseason in manager Bruce Bochy's tenure. They have never lost a postseason series under his watch . . . One thing the Giants needed to improve was hitting with runners in scoring position. They were hitting .216 entering Game 4.

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Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.