Pablo Sandoval has never been the most svelte player in the big leagues, but since the third baseman signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox before the 2015 season, things seem to have regressed.
Coming off an awful first season in Boston (.245 BA, 10 home runs, 16 errors), the Panda, as he is affectionately called, arrived several days late at Red Sox spring training, and by all accounts he looks just as out of shape as ever.
From the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy: “Mercy. Get a load of that gut. If we didn’t know better, we’d suggest that Pablo appears not to be taking things seriously.”
Between his cold bat and poor fielding, Sandoval was a key reason why the Red Sox finished the regular season in last place in the A.L. East. The $70 million he is still owed through the 2020 season partly explained why the franchise parted ways with G.M. Ben Cherington last year.
Entering this year’s spring training, the Red Sox are an early favourite to return to the World Series. And like all sports’ preseasons, spring training is a time ripe with players talking about how they are in the best shape of their life. Not so much with Sandoval.
Let’s take a look at his entrance:
“I don’t weigh in at all,” he said when asked how much weight he’d lost during the offseason. “I just do my work, try to do everything I can. I don’t weigh in all offseason. I just try to get better, be in better position, be an athlete.”
He also said the team didn’t ask him about losing weight.
Red Sox manager John Farrell had to clarify the the team’s approach to Sandoval’s fitness, but even he didn’t sound particularly optimistic.
“I can’t tell you if he got on a scale or not,” Farrell said. “I can tell you that, visiting him in January, he looked like he was in better condition . . . when we met with every player at the end of last season, each player was given a specific plan, a workout routine, to go into the offseason.”
Unsurprisingly, Red Sox nation is already panicking.
“By design, spring training is supposed to be a happy time of year,” Boston Herald columnist Steve Buckley wrote. “But this is the first red flag for the Red Sox.”
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