One of the biggest stories so far this Spring Training has been how Pablo Sandoval has lost a lot of weight. For a lot of fans, this is a sign that he might be able to get back to what we saw in 2011 when he hit .315/.357/.552 (or at least to what we saw the last couple of years he was in San Francisco).
Despite the optimistic feeling around Sandoval’s early arrival in Fort Meyers, however, Red Sox officials are making it clear that he has to earn the starting gig at third base. Not only did Sandoval miss an entire year due to injury, after all, but he only had a batting line of .245/.292/.366 during the 2015. If he’s down in those ranges again, it shouldn’t be too surprising if the Red Sox decide to use Brock Holt and Josh Rutledge.
In other words, while everyone’s happy about the progressive Pablo made during the offseason, he’s still got to prove a lot during Spring Training.
“Pablo’s done a great job of getting himself in better shape,” Farrell said according to the Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham. “But what he does on the field and [if he] gets back to previous levels before signing as a free agent, that’s what we’re hopeful of. It’s a spot to be in competition for.”
For his part, Brock Holt has made it clear that he’s showing up ready to play hard every day. The natural second baseman is thought to occasionally play there when Pedroia needs a break (which might be more often than usual since he’s coming back from a knee injury) and has some experience playing in left field. But with all the attention on third base, he’ll be spending a fair amount of time taking grounders on the left side of the infield as well.
No matter who ends up starting at the hot corner, there’s no doubt that a slimmed down and healthy Pablo Sandoval is worth a lot more to the Red Sox than the player he’s been for the organization the last couple years.