Heading into the season, Hanley Ramirez was the biggest concern on Red Sox fans' minds, until Sandoval showed up 50 pounds overweight. With Hanley making diving plays and stretching for outs at first base, the negative attention quickly shifted to Pablo Sandoval at 3rd.
As discussed before, many Red Sox fans understand that Sandoval is just a fat guy, and can perform as such. However, I cannot pardon him after showing up in the condition that he did, especially coming off possibly his worst season, and saying he has nothing to prove. He has everything to prove.
Travis Shaw, who won the hearts of Red Sox fans with his performance last season, has given Sandoval about as much competition as he can handle for the position of 3rd base. You can even make the argument that Shaw is the favorite to start at 3rd this year.
Sandoval is now missing time with a lower back injury suffered when he dove to backhand a play at 3rd. Shaw will now be the starting 3rd baseman for the next few days, and it is doubtful that Sandoval will start on opening day.
This could possibly just be a freak injury that has nothing to do with his weight, but at this point, I can't give him the benefit of the doubt. Shaw now has the time to step in and prove that he is in shape and dedicated to this team, and hopefully, take over the position.
Today, suddenly, Sandoval informed the team that his back feels fine and he could possibly be good to go. Sandoval is finally realizing just how much his job is in jeopardy. I think he realizes that right now, Shaw is working harder than he is, and cares more than he does, and he is about to take his job.
It's sad that it took this much for Sandoval to start caring about baseball, but if we're being optimistic, it's good to see that at least some part of him cares. The season starts in less than 2 weeks and Sandoval is just starting to kick it into gear, which is the exact reason Travis Shaw should be our 3rd baseman on April 4th in Cleveland.
By Matt Watts