Update (5:31 PM EST): WEEI’s John Tomase wrote today that neither Sandoval nor the reporter raised their voices during their disagreement. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal called the use of the word rant “a significant mischaracterization”.
If I were Pablo Sandoval, I wouldn’t be too happy with the media either. He had a subpar showing in 2015, his first with the Red Sox after signing a five-year, $95 million contract. The third baseman battled injuries and finished with a disappointing .658 OPS.
Sandoval’s weight — he’s listed at 255 pounds — has often been a launching bad for criticism and derision, as illustrated here. The Red Sox seem to be fine, at least publicly, with Sandoval as he reportedly lost 20-22 pounds during the offseason. But an unflattering photo published by the Boston Globe made him the subject of some sophomoric ribbing by some members of the media, who were all of a sudden concerned with the long-term health of the athletes it covers. So, yeah, if I’m Sandoval, I’m not exactly feeling like I want to be friends with any reporter that comes up and jams a tape recorder under my chin.
David Laurila of FanGraphs reports that Sandoval flipped out on a reporter on Tuesday, but strangely enough, it had nothing to do with a comment about his weight; rather, the reporter cited some defensive statistics that don’t portray him in a great light. Laurila was told that Sandoval went on a “rant” and slammed a bat on a table. Needless to say, that’s not a healthy or productive way to deal with a critic.
Defensive stats are pretty unreliable, especially compared with their offensive counterparts. For what it’s worth, Baseball Reference had Sandoval at 11 defensive runs below average last season, and FanGraphs had him at 15 below.
It’s something that, if the report is true, should worry the Red Sox. How will he react if he starts the season off poorly and has the media spotlight shone on him again? Will his inability to cope negatively impact the Red Sox clubhouse or inhibit his ability to focus? The Red Sox are primed to retake the AL East crown, but an unwell Sandoval could prove to be an impediment.