Pay no attention to that belly behind the jersey. The Boston Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval to be more than just an athlete, in the off-season. They signed him to be a baseball player.
One of the most important pieces of the puzzle for veterans is to impart leadership skills on to the youngsters in the organization, to help them learn what it takes to be successful in the big leagues. According to MLB.com‘s Ian Browne, at Boston’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Florida, Sandoval has already impressed Red Sox manager John Farrell with his willingness to be that kind of leader. Farrell said, “It’s been refreshing in a way that he asks … is it OK for him to impart some of the things he’s been taught to younger guys. You only get reports on an individual before they get to you, but once you interact with a guy, in Pablo’s case daily, you recognize he cares about his teammates and the way the game is played in addition to being a very talented guy. So that has been above and beyond what we anticipated.”
After winning three of the last five World Series Championships with the San Francisco Giants, Sandoval has signed on for a new challenge in Boston: bring that winning attitude to the Red Sox, regardless of what is happening on the field. “We had each other’s back. We supported each other. Those are the things I want to bring here … Things here are more loose — we have more fun. That’s a good thing,” Sandoval told Browne.
That positivity will be essential for young players like Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo, and a few other budding stars at camp this spring. Especially Bogaerts, who came off a disappointing 2014, hitting only .240 and making 20 errors on defense, at third base and shortstop positions. Well, third base is no longer a problem, with Sandoval firmly cemented in that spot this season, and playing directly beside Bogaerts should be a calming influence on the young man. Having a two-time All-Star helping you can have that effect.
How can Sandoval show the youth how to prepare for the regular season when he can’t even take care of his waistline, you ask? Well, he does take care of it:
The man is working out. Check out how fast his feet are just a few days ago:
Boston.com‘s article on Sandoval, yesterday, also alludes to Sandoval’s feelings about his weight. “When Pablo was asked by WFXT-TV (Fox 25) sports anchor Butch Stearns this week about the one thing he wants Boston fans to know about him, Panda replied, ‘That I’m not fat.’ And he told ESPN’s Karl Ravech and Curt Schilling that he’s lost five pounds since the World Series.” Even if he didn’t, the man had 12 hits, including four RBIs, against the Kansas City Royals to win the championship. Anyone willing to excuse his waistline, now?
The Kung Fu Panda of Venezuela officially weighs in at 245 pounds of ball-bashing talent. In seven seasons, Sandoval hit .294, with 106 home runs and 462 RBIs. His fielding was ranked sixth in all of MLB for third basemen, according to ESPN. His skills at the plate and the infield are reminiscent of Tony Gwynn or Kirby Puckett, as being agile while being overweight for their height.
Besides, it’s not like Red Sox Nation can say too much. They’ve been in love with designated hitter David Ortiz, who plays a little first base, as much as Ortiz loves a meal. Who cares about weight, as long as you amass trophies? The way to do that is by keeping it loose. Not your waistline; not your focus. You have to drop the bad attitude and keep your lips loose from frowns. Baseball is a game, and games were meant to be fun. Look and Sandoval and his new friends. They look like they are going to have a good time, this season.