Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval not ready to give up switch-hitting


Pablo Sandoval is a natural lefty who had to teach himself how to bat and throw right-handed. He claims that he feels comfortable from both sides of the plate, so despite his struggles against left-handed pitchers, the Boston Red Sox third baseman has no intention of giving up being a switch-hitter.

Sandoval enters the day on Thursday second among all qualified Red Sox hitters with a .285 average, so there’s little reason to worry about his production at the plate. Lately he seems to be one of the few in this lineup that is hitting at all, as the Red Sox offense continues to scuffle through May with a league low 31 runs scored this month.

A quick glance at Sandoval’s splits paints a more troubling picture. When batting from the left side he is crushing right-handed pitchers to the tune of .371/.446/.562, while all 4 of his home runs have come from that side. Batting from the right side has been a different story. Sandoval is struggling mightily against lefties, batting a meager .059/.086/.059 with 12 strikeouts in 34 at-bats.

"“Everyone complains about it,” Sandoval told reporters this week, per “But I’m going to keep working on it. I’m going to keep working hard, do my own thing so I try to do the best.”"

Sandoval is quick to point out the small sample size, which is true. Only 27.6 percent of his at-bats this season have come against lefties. Sandoval believes his struggles are due to his limited opportunities to bat from the right side, which can make it difficult to make adjustments.

"“It’s tough because depending on the year, you don’t see a lot of lefty pitchers out there,” adds Sandoval. “So how you going to compare your lefty swing (to the right-handed one) when coming into the game (against) nasty guys.”"

Struggling to hit left-handed pitching is an issue that has plagued Sandoval for over a year now, as he hit only .200 from that side of the plate in a modest sample size of 190 at-bats last season. That might be enough evidence to warrant giving up the switch-hitting approach, but Sandoval does have a track record of success from both sides. As recently as 2013 he hit a respectable .270 from the right side, while the previous year his splits actually leaned in favor of batting from that side when he hit .299 against lefties.

For his career, Sandoval has hit .306/.361/.495 from the left side compared to .264/.311/.381 from the right side.

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Sandoval says that he has been working with teammate David Ortiz, who provides a different vantage point from the advice he gets from his hitting coaches. Big Papi doesn’t bat from the right side of the plate himself, but he knows hitting as well as anyone on this team. Perhaps he can help Panda make the necessary adjustments.

Manager John Farrell has seen some improvement in Sandoval’s swing from the right side. He’s using his hands better and not lunging as much as he did in spring training. He hopes that it’s only a matter of getting more at-bats from the right side to get his issues ironed out.

Teammate Shane Victorino gave up switch-hitting this spring, but that was due to physical reasons that led to him feeling discomfort when batting from the left side. He now bats exclusively right-handed, but that came out of necessity.

Sandoval still has a choice. For now, that choice seems to be that he will attempt to work his way through it. Besides, even if he did hit left-handed against lefty pitchers, there’s no evidence to suggest he would fare any better.