Craig Calcaterra

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Pablo Sandoval is in the best shape of his life

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For a guy who won a World Series MVP Award and has been to a couple of All-Star Games, it’s amazing how many stories have been written about Pablo Sandoval‘s off-the-field exploits compared to his on-the-field exploits. Specifically, stories about his conditioning. Or lack of conditioning. Of him getting into shape, falling out of shape and getting back into shape again. It’s been this way since he emerged as an everyday player in 2009.

And it continues anew:

There is no claim here that Sandoval is, in fact, in The Best Shape of His Life. However, longtime BSOHL fans know that the claim is not about the magic words being used. The idea is that, in the offseason, players with something to prove will routinely make an effort to create the impression that they are a new man. Often it is from claiming that one is in The Best Shape of His Life. Often it comes from surrogates talking about how many pounds of fat one has lost or pounds of pure muscle one has added. Sometimes — as here — it comes in the form of showing post-workout photos.

Whatever the purpose of the photo, Sandoval is certainly looking good compared to where he was last spring:

FORT MYERS, - MARCH 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox makes the throw to first on the ground ball from Jason Rogers (not in photo) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning of the Spring Training Game on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Or at the end of the 2015 season:

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox warms up prior to the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won the game 4-3. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Even if this is part of a plan to get Sandoval some good press heading into the 2017 season, I’m happy to see that he appears to be recovered from shoulder surgery and appears to be taking good care of himself and is thinking about his baseball futrue.

Either way, expect the Panda Weight Watch to continue at Red Sox spring training come February.

Terry Collins wants to see Tim Tebow play Spring Training Games

PEORIA, AZ - OCTOBER 13:  Tim Tebow #15 (New York Mets) of the Scottsdale Scorpions warms up on deck during the Arizona Fall League game against the Peoria Javelinas at Peoria Stadium on October 13, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The managerial interviews are getting underway here at the Winter Meetings and the first one today was Terry Collins of the Mets. There wasn’t too much in his session that was newsworthy — some stuff about Zach Wheeler maybe seeing time in the bullpen — but there was one thing that will interest you. At least if your article-clicking habits in the past few months is any guide:

I’m sure the Port St. Lucie visitors bureau will be happy to hear that as it will ensure people coming to the ballpark next March.

As for the baseball merits, Tebow hit .194/.296/.242 in 70 plate appearances in 19 games in the Arizona Fall League, striking out 20 times. He’s no one’s idea of a real prospect, but you see all manner of players in spring training games, especially late in the afternoon after all of the starters have left for the golf course.

Does Tebow deserve a shot in a big league spring training game this spring? Maybe not. But the Republic will not fall if he is given a couple of at bats in garbage time.

MLB says there is no “Shoehi Otani exception”

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Yesterday, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported that there were potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Otani, and that Otani would, in fact, be posted to play in the United States for the 2017 season.

Now, however, Major League Baseball is pouring cold water on that:

Which is to say that, because MLB owners wanted to save money on international prospects, they have willingly adopted a rule that will keep top international talent from coming here when possible. Baseball officials want to grow the game internationally, they say. They just don’t want to pay to do it.