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Quick on his feet: Panda showing defensive worth

Strong camp with glove, bat has veteran third baseman in line for starter's gig
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pablo Sandoval is measuring his progress in Spring Training by first-step quickness on defense.

In that regard, Saturday was a good day, as Sandoval made a couple of nice plays, including a sweet pick of a hard grounder that started a 5-4-3 double play and a strong charge of a slow roller to get an out at first.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pablo Sandoval is measuring his progress in Spring Training by first-step quickness on defense.

In that regard, Saturday was a good day, as Sandoval made a couple of nice plays, including a sweet pick of a hard grounder that started a 5-4-3 double play and a strong charge of a slow roller to get an out at first.

View Full Game Coverage

"Yeah, I've been working on my first step all offseason," Sandoval said after a 3-2 loss to the Pirates. "That's one of the things I'm looking forward to improving. Quickness, getting that first step working."

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For the first time while wearing a Red Sox uniform, Sandoval is starting to resemble the player he was for all those years in San Francisco.

"Yeah, I feel good in the field so that's the most important thing after losing so many games in one year," said Sandoval. "I'm just trying to do my job out there."

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The Red Sox haven't named him the starting third baseman yet, but it is starting to feel like an inevitability.

"Good range today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "To his glove side, and coming in on a ball. We're just seeing a player that he's been in the past. I don't think the first two years here in Boston have been indicative of what his abilities are but he's playing to that level right now."

Sandoval went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but is hitting .333 so far in Spring Training.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval