Pablo Sandoval’s 2016 Season Couldn’t Be Off to a Worse Start

Sandoval showed up to the Red Sox's spring training camp out of shape and with a defiant attitude.

For the second consecutive year, Pablo Sandoval has shown up to Spring Training woefully out of shape. And this time around, he seems to have a defiant attitude as well.

Sandoval arrived at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers Sunday, one day after he originally said he was going to get there. On several occasions this offseason, Red Sox officials talked about their desire to see Sandoval lose some weight over the winter. But apparently they never had those conversations with Sandoval himself.

“I don’t weigh. I don’t weigh in at all,” Sandoval said after being asked how much weight he had lost, via ESPN. “I just do my work, try to do everything I can out there. I don’t weigh at all in the whole offseason. I just try to get better, be in a better position and, like I say, be an athlete.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell, who said last month at the Boston Baseball Writers’ Dinner Sandoval had dropped 20-22 pounds, reversed course Sunday, saying the team never gave Sandoval a specific weight loss goal.

“I will say, typically when you come back in better shape, you’re probably going to lose weight,” Farrell said, via MassLive. “But to give a specific number of how many pounds were to be lost, we didn’t give that to him. … Feel like he’s in better condition than he finished the year.”

Sandoval, 29, was arguably the worst defensive third baseman in baseball last season and posted a career low .658 OPS at the plate as well. He missed 37 games, too, battling dehydration and pneumonia at various points throughout the summer.

It was a disastrous first impression for Sandoval, who signed a five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox in 2014. But according to him, his 2015 campaign wasn’t a letdown at all.

“It’s not a disappointment,” Sandoval said, via the Herald. “It’s baseball. It’s a surprise. You can’t have the whole season be great. You’re going to have some ups and downs. You have to prepare yourself to be ready when those moments come, shake it off and you work hard to do everything you can do to prove next year you can be better than that.”

But what’s especially troubling is Sandoval’s contention that he’s going to pick up switch-hitting full-time again. Sandoval went 2-for-41 from the right side of the plate last season before he started hitting exclusively left-handed at the end of May. He says his struggles can be chalked up to a lack of confidence, but his woes as a right-handed hitter predate 2015. In 2013 and 2014, Sandoval had a putrid .618 OPS batting as a righty against left-handed pitching.

The Red Sox had a glaring hole at the hot corner entering last year, and Sandoval was the best available third baseman on the free agent market. Though his weight fluctuated throughout his time with the San Francisco Giants, he was a highly productive player and played an integral role in two of the Giants’ three most recent World Series wins (he’s a career .426 hitter in the World Series).

The Red Sox once hoped Sandoval would be a superstar in Boston, rolling out several panda mascots during his introductory press conference—an acknowledgment of his “Kung Fu Panda” monicker. But now, the best the team can hope for is saving face.