Pablo Sandoval wanted to show his teammates he could trim down over the winter. More importantly, though, he wanted to show them that he grew up.

“I grew up as a person, as a human being,” he said, “to take my job seriously.”

He did not have their respect when a 76-86 season ended in September. That much was clear back then, even though the grumbling wasn’t aired publicly. Sandoval confirmed as much on Saturday when he said Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Matt Cain all confronted him late in the year and challenged him to take responsibility for himself and his career.

“People said it, my teammates said it,” Sandoval said. “Buster was one of those guys, Hunter, Cain. I put in my mind the great season in 2011. I can be that player again.”

Sandoval, who arrived heavy last spring, was supposed to boost the offense when he returned from a foot injury late last June. Instead he hit .113 in his first two weeks as the season spun away from the defending champions. The reigning World Series MVP became a major part of the problem, and although the clubhouse didn’t dissolve into public finger pointing, it came close at times.

But Sandoval took the criticism as constructive.

“I feel blessed that a former MVP (Posey) told me that, that Hunter told me that,” Sandoval said. “I have to take it seriously because it’s not one person telling me. It’s all of my teammates telling me what kind of player I am.”

Will Sandoval remain teammates with those guys after this season? That might be the question of the spring for the Giants because the third baseman is due to hit free agency after the season. If he has the year everyone expects, the 27-year-old would command one of the richest contracts of the winter.

GM Brian Sabean said in December that he plans to broach extension talks with Sandoval this spring. CEO Larry Baer has made it a priority as well. Sandoval’s state of mind? He said exactly what you’d expect: He’ll listen. He owes the Giants that much. But he also didn’t make it sound like an extension would be a priority this spring.