Red Sox: Pablo Sandoval begins rehab assignment in Pawtucket
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is expected to begin his rehab assignment in Pawtucket on Friday, yet his return to the majors remains unclear.
While all eyes will be on David Price for his start with Triple-A Pawtucket, another high priced veteran for the Boston Red Sox will be starting his rehab assignment with the PawSox on Friday.
Pablo Sandoval is expected to serve as the designated hitter in his first game action since hitting the disabled list last month with a knee sprain.
The third baseman left the Red Sox after their series in St. Louis to fly back to Boston, rather than follow the team to Oakland. He’ll then join the PawSox in Buffalo for Friday’s game.
"“He’ll begin Friday in Buffalo and DH to begin with and as we’ve done with position players who have had some extended time down, we’ll break him in that way,” manager John Farrell told reporters in St. Louis, per WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “But he’s going to need some games to get into game shape. The fact is he’s done a lot of work to get to this point, some early work again today. And he’s ready to get that rehab underway.”"
It’s unclear how much time Sandoval will need to get back into game shape, although he did mention that his intent is to ensure that he’s 100 percent healthy. It certainly doesn’t seem that the Red Sox will be rushing to get him back in the lineup.
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Until Sandoval is ready to return, the Red Sox will likely continue allowing Deven Marrero to hold down the fort at third base. The 26-year old infielder is hitting an anemic .154 with a .416 OPS in 26 at-bats this season. While nobody is expecting Sandoval to recapture the form of his glory days in San Francisco, even his harshest critics have to admit he’d be a tremendous upgrade to the lineup over Marrero.
While Marrero has essentially become an automatic out at the bottom of the order, his defense at the hot corner makes sticking with him worthwhile. Third base had become a disaster zone for the Red Sox, with a major league-leading 13 errors coming from the position. The sure-handed Marrero hasn’t accounted for any of those errors and has already been credited with two defensive runs saved in only 10 games.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, Sandoval was batting a mere .219 with a .646 OPS over 17 games. That’s really not much better than Marrero, at least not by enough to make up the drastic downgrade Sandoval provides defensively.
He was leading the team with three home runs at the time of his injury, so Sandoval’s return could add a bit more pop to the lineup that Marrero simply isn’t capable of. However, considering Sandoval hasn’t topped 16 home runs in a season since 2011, we can’t count on him delivering a significant boost in that department.
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Sandoval should take his time rehabbing because once he’s activated he better be ready to swing the bat and field his position. If he can’t do both at least at an average level then there’s no guarantee that he’ll reclaim his starting job from Marrero.