2016 has been a year that Pablo Sandoval would like to forget. He had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. The press took shots at his weight and the Sox front office made it clear that they were unhappy with his overall conditioning. He then went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery, sidelining him for the rest of the year.
In August there was a report that Sandoval had lost 22 pounds and was proceeding through his shoulder rehab admirably. There was even a brief suggestion that he could be available to play for the Sox towards the end of the season, though that obviously did not come to pass. Either way, the trajectory of the Sandoval narrative was finally beginning to point upward.
And it points upward still, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe provides a report of the Red Sox third base situation which makes it sound pretty good for Sandoval’s prospects of winning back the starting third base job.
Abraham notes that Sandoval’s replacements, Travis Shaw and Brock Holt, were wildly inconsistent. Likewise, Yoan Moncada, who many thought would take over the job due to his sheer talent and upside, struggled soon after being given a chance and has shown himself to be strikeout prone and possibly in need of more seasoning. He also injured his thumb in Arizona Fall League play.
None of which is to say that Sandoval will be the man in 2017, but if he’s healthy and he’s in better shape, he should get the longest look for the job in spring training. He’s under contract for a lot of money over the next three years and he has a history of bouncing back strong after off years. Stranger things have happened.