BOSTON (CBS) — If one thing is certain this spring, Pablo Sandoval is a man on a mission.
After missing nearly all of the 2016 season, following a disappointing 2015 campaign to start his Red Sox career, a slimmed-down Sandoval reported to the Red Sox Spring Training facilities on Thursday ready to get back to baseball. He’s ready to win back his starting job at third base. He’s ready to win back the trust of his teammates, and the trust of Red Sox fans.
Sandoval knows he has a lot to prove as the Red Sox begin their 2017 season.
“I have to prove everything, especially when you come in from a year off with an injury,” Sandoval told reporters as he held court in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday. “You have to prove a lot of things to the fans, to the team, to your teammates. You have to prove a lot of things out there on the field.”
Manager John Farrell said time will tell if Sandoval can live up to those promises, but by all accounts in these early goings of spring, he appears focused and ready to do just that.
“We’re going to find out based on how he goes out and plays. But what is clear, and by his own admission, Pablo has been very honest with himself. There is a need to get back to the player he was, to reclaim his position and win back his teammates,” Farrell said Thursday. “You see that he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of our fans, and that’s not just what he’s said the last couple of days. In winter, he was very clear that he had to make some adjustments. To his credit, so far, he’s doing that.
“There is clearly pride that is still very much there. I don’t think anyone would venture to say the first two years have gone as anticipated, he being the most important in that,” added Farrell. “Based on his own pride and motivation to get back to a status within our team and within the game, he’s put in the work.”
That work included a new program with Red Sox trainers. He was up at 5:30 a.m. every morning for his workout sessions, and he began a boxing program to help him regain strength in his surgically repaired left shoulder. The program will change when he begins to deal with the rigors of a baseball season, but the goal will remain the same. Sandoval is ready to prove himself.
Perhaps most importantly, missing last season has given Sandoval a new perspective on just about everything.
“I appreciate everything. Life is different. Everything can change in your career,” he said. “When you’re that up and down, you have to keep your head up and keep working hard to do the things you know how to do.
“You learn a lot of things from the mistakes you make when you get comfortable,” he added.
Sandoval said he has some great people in his corner throughout the Red Sox organization, and the communication from the training staff has been a big part in getting back to the field. He’s also received plenty of inspiration from his family, and new baby boy.
“I want to be on the field for eight more years,” he said, “so he can see his dad play while he’s growing up.”
The weight issues, his lack of production during his two years in Boston and all the other Onion-like headlines are in the past. Sandoval has his sights set on the future, and hitting the field once again. There was a lot of talk on Thursday about proving himself. Now he has to go out and do it.
“I came here today to be ready to play baseball,” he said. “That’s my focus and my main goal, to prove to my teammates I can be the third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.”