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Pablo Sandoval expected to get first crack at the third base job in Red Sox camp

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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.

Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord

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John Wisely of the Detroit Free Press reports that current free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez is being sued by his former landlord for damage to the rented property as well as missing artwork. The landlord is asking for $80,000 after having kept Rodriguez’s $15,000 security deposit.

The lawsuit says that Rodriguez damaged a bedroom TV, a crystal floor lamp, glass shelves in the bar, glass tiles in the master bath, and a Moroccan mirror in the powder room. Additionally, the suit claims that the bedding is stained and paint has chipped, as well as other damages. And the piece of art that is allegedly missing, which depicts a tiger, is valued at more than $10,000.

Rodriguez has not yet been served with the suit, but the landlord has been speaking to his managers.

The Nationals released Rodriguez, 35, two weeks ago after having signed him to a minor league contract in late June. He started the season with the Tigers, but struggled to a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 innings before being released.

Report: Rays acquire Lucas Duda from the Mets

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that the Rays have acquired first baseman Lucas Duda from the Mets. The Mets will receive pitching prospect Drew Smith in return, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

Duda, 31, is batting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 291 plate appearances for the Mets this season. He’ll provide a potent bat in the Rays’ lineup as they attempt to overcome their current 2.5-game deficit in the AL East.

Smith, 23, is the Rays’ No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He ascended from High-A to Triple-A already this season, posting an aggregate 1.60 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio over 45 innings across four stops with High-A Lakeland (Tigers), High-A Charlotte (Rays), Double-A Montgomery, and Triple-A Durham.