Boston Red Sox: Has Pablo Sandoval shrunk?

Sep 24, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) works out prior the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval (48) works out prior the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox apparently are placing a bet that Pablo Sandoval is half the man he once was. Is the Panda no longer Panda like? Spring training will tell.

Information continues to surface regarding Pablo Sandoval – recipient of a five-year and $95 million contract on which the returns have been negligible. The culprit is noted in the seven deadly sins in which Sandoval had adopted a pair – gluttony and sloth. Last season the curtain closed early with shoulder surgery and rehabilitation.

The rehabilitation appeared to be progressing with excellent results. Sandoval was considered for a late season visit to Boston and having manager John Farrell conjuring up a few at-bats for a look-see into the future. That did not happen and any Sandoval assessments will be postponed until spring training.

Carl Yastrzemski was considered a very good player between 1961 and 1966. Replacing a legend in left field, Yaz had already won a batting title in 1963, captured two Gold Gloves and was a fairly noted gap power hitter, but something was missing?

More from Red Sox News

There was a new sheriff coming to Boston in first-year manager Dick Williams. Yastrzemski knew about Williams when they were both teammates in 1963 and 1964. Williams’s intensity and strong character left an impression on Yastrzemski and that started a path that led to the Hall of Fame.

That 1966 offseason resulted in a dramatic change for Yastrzemski as conditioning became the task at hand. Full well knowing Williams any questions on conditioning would be answered by a benching, a public calling out and a lengthy list of sarcastic terms personally directed. Just ask Joe Foy about that.

Yastrzemski was a bit pudgy, smoked and would never be one to be considered a gym rat. Where I and many others first noticed the change was on the television show called “Superstars” that pitted athletes in different sports in competition with one another. One event was a half-mile run and Yaz simply decimated the field. The rest is history. At least he didn’t almost drown in the pool like Joe Frazier once did.

More from Red Sox News

Has Sandoval turned a corner? Was the constant public and probably private humiliation enough? Did Sandoval finally connect the dots and dedicate himself as Yastrzemski once did? For Sandoval, it is both professional and personal as he is going down a path that could have dire consequences as he ages. I once wrote an article comparing him to the previously mentioned Foy – a tragic story.

We’ve all seen the pictures of Sandoval. I have no idea if there is any creative photo cropping being done, but first-hand accounts give credence that Sandoval has turned that corner. There is, however, a caveat since Sandoval in the past – meaning as with the Giants – also turned that corner only to turn it again to the buffet line.

The Red Sox apparently are leaning towards a far more physically presentably Sandoval. Travis Shaw has departed and that leaves Brock Holt and rookie Marco Hernandez as possible replacements incase Panda truly does become a Panda again – great for marketeering, but not so great at third. Rafael Devers – now the number two prospect – may not be ready until the Sandoval contract has run its course.

If Sandoval is in baseball and not pear shape the Red Sox will have a quality player at third base. The Sandoval of his Giants salad days (no pun intended) was an excellent defensive player, a timely hitter, and a clutch performer. That Sandoval would certainly strengthen the lineup with the retirement of David Ortiz.

Next: Boston Red Sox: Evan Longoria teaches David Price about emojis

The entire season will be one of observation regarding Sandoval. If he has developed a new lifestyle will it continue? Undoubtedly the Red Sox will have a support team in place and quite possibly Sandoval will also have his own support team. At his age -30-years-old – his baseball life expectancy is rather short. A new and svelte Panda is playing for that future and the potential for that one final and extra-large (no pun intended) payday.