The Rain Delay

Hard-Hitting Baseball Analysis

Pablo Sandoval’s Weight and Defiance are Big Causes for Concern

This is an archived post from my prior blog, The Sprained Ankle. It was posted February 21, 2016.

Every year, Spring Training brings forth a cascade of optimism and represents a rebirth of the things baseball fans love the most.  The interminable days of cold, dreary weather are replaced by the balmy and inviting Florida sun.  The howling winter winds are long gone, hostilely overtaken by the beautiful polyphony of the ball hitting the palm of the mitt and the booming, yet comforting, crack of the bat.  Pitchers may claim to have added a new pitch to their repertoire.  Many players, coming off of a winter of a rigorous weight-lifting and conditioning regimen, boast about being in the best shape of their life, a phrase that has become as trite as a nascent sorority sister “loving her big.”

Well, yesterday the baseball world learned that Pablo Sandoval, unequivocally and unapologetically, loves his big too.  Sporting team-issued apparel and a protruding belly so massive that you would think he was with child, Pablo Sandoval arrived to Red Sox camp.  And, suddenly, the idyllic and placid nature of Red Sox camp had become engulfed with a torrential downpour of negativity and scorn.

Even more disconcerting than Sandoval’s grotesque appearance is the 3rd baseman’s conspicuous obstinacy.  After a dreadful season in which he hit .245/.292/.366 and badly regressed on defense, Sandoval spoke to reporters Sunday with an alarming lack of self-awareness.

Asked if he had anything to prove after such an abysmal 2015 campaign, Sandoval retorted, “No, I don’t got nothing to prove.”  He even declined to label last season a disappointment, saying “It’s not a disappointment, it’s baseball.”

Okay, perhaps those quotes weren’t too bad.  Maybe this was simply a player who was eager to forget last season and didn’t want to give the harsh Boston media a self-deprecating quote.

But then Sandoval’s words took a turn for the worse, with his words seemingly becoming more odious by the syllable.

“I don’t weigh in at all,” Sandoval quipped, when asked how much weight he lost over the offseason. “I just do my work, try to do everything I can. I don’t weigh in all offseason. I just try to get better, be in better position, be an athlete.”

Wow.  He didn’t weigh himself at all?  That sounds disingenuous at best, particularly for, you know, a guy that is paid $19 million per year to play a sport for a living.

But somehow, the train wreck only got worse, evolving rapidly from a mild typhoon into a Category 5 hurricane.

A reporter continued to fuel the storm, asking Sandoval if anyone in the organization requested him to lose weight over the offseason.

“Nope,” replied a matter-of-fact Hurricane Pablo.

Nope?  Really?  As MassLive.com reported, then-interim manager Torey Lovullo made it clear entering the offseason that the Red Sox instructed Sandoval to lose weight before the start of the 2016 season.

While Sandoval has succeeded throughout his career in spite of his large waistline, his 2015 season was directly hindered because of his overinflated physique.  His normally steady defense degenerated into a horror show in 2015 due to his inability to react quickly or transfer his weight on throws to first base.  It doesn’t take a bariatric surgeon to deduce that these newfangled issues were directly correlated to Sandoval’s weight.

And that’s what is so disappointing about this for Red Sox fans.  Pablo Sandoval is a three-time World Series champion, a player who only seems to improve as the stakes get bigger.  He knows what it’s like to be at the pinnacle of the sport, to experience the euphoric high that accompanies winning a championship.  But, as his disastrous Spring Training arrival demonstrates, he doesn’t seem willing to make the sacrifices that champions make.  And that’s a shame.  Perhaps Sandoval will have a resurgent season in his sophomore year in Boston.  But what are the odds of that happening?  Fat chance.

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