Pablo Sandoval got his body into much better shape this summer in Fort Myers. (Kim Klement/USA Today Sports)
It was a lost season for Pablo Sandoval.
After playing in just three games and going 0-for-6, Sandoval was lost for the season after needing shoulder surgery. This came after showing up to spring training out of shape and losing the starting third base job to Travis Shaw.
Following the surgery, Sandoval spent the majority of summer working out at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers with a goal of getting healthy enough for the ALCS, although he likely wouldn’t have been on the roster given his extended time away.
Sandoval was seen during the Tampa series late in the year where he clearly was in much better shape.
President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski praised Sandoval during his end of the year press conference on Tuesday when discussing his status for next year.
“Well I think that in Pablo’s case, and we have a long haul until we get to the beginning of the season, the beginning of spring training, we’ve got four months ahead, so a lot of things could happen in four months,” Dombrowski said. “He should be proud of himself for how he’s handled the time since he left this club. I don’t know if you were in Tampa or not, you can see he’s appreciably got himself in better shape. He’s worked very hard for us down in Fort Myers, he’s been down there every day. He’s been a model with the young kids. Some of the people told Mike Hazen that he’s treated the younger kids better than anybody they’ve ever had down there from a Major League perspective, buying them food.
“His goal was to be ready, physically, to play in the ALCS. I don’t know that that would’ve happened, because our other people had been there all year, but from a health perspective, he’s really right there, so I think he’ll be healthy next year. There’s other guys that I’m sure say they should be the third baseman. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out. But he’s been a proven big league performer. If he’s healthy and ready to go, he has a chance to be a good performer for us. I know people say, “Well . . . ” but the same thing was said about Hanley last year at the same time. Hanley worked very hard. That’s why there’s still a long haul ahead for him.”
Sandoval will enter spring training next year in a battle for the third base job with plenty of candidates including Shaw, Yoan Moncada (who will play exclusively at third base in the Arizona Fall League) and even Brock Holt, who may be better off as a super utility player.
It’s worth noting of those players, Sandoval is the only player who only plays one position.
“But I think that Pablo will be ready to play,” Dombrowski said. “How does he compete vs. Travis [Shaw] and Brock and everyone else. I think that’s one thing with our club that’s interesting. When you start talking about Travis and Brock, there’s flexibility with where you can play them, so when we eventually get to that point of setting up our club, those are important decisions for us.”