FORT MYERS, Fla. — A notably slimmer third baseman Pablo Sandoval joined more than 25 players for an early workout at Fenway South facilities Feb. 10.
Among the last players to report last spring, Sandoval’s early arrival suggests a keen desire to win back his starting position, as does his apparent weight loss.
This is not the first time Sandoval has dropped weight in an offseason. Prior to Boston’s 2011 campaign, Sandoval shed 40 pounds and went on to make his first All-Star appearance, hitting .315/.357/.552.
Though position players do not have a formal workout until Feb. 17, a smiling Sandoval practiced rounds of batting from both sides of home plate.
“He worked his tail off,” Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. told Ian Browne of MLB.com. “I’m happy to see him happy. I’m glad to see his smile and his energy back.”
Fans and the coaching staff alike will be watching Sandoval’s performance this season. After a disastrous beginning in 2015 and a season-ending surgery that allowed him only six at-bats in 2016, Sandoval needs to make up not only for lost time, but for mistakes made.
Though Sandoval has competition for the hot corner in Brock Holt, the Red Sox had some of the worst production from the third base position during 2016. Third basemen combined for a .288 on-base percentage, ranking 24th, and for a slugging percentage of .356, which ranked 28th out of 30 MLB clubs.
While Sandoval fights to regain his position, the team fights for a chance at the World Series.
With three aces in the pitching staff and a balanced lineup, 2017 could be a year to remember for Boston.