Panda hopes to spring back with confidence

Slugger ready to resume switch-hitting, prove himself to fans, teammates

February 21st, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Pablo Sandoval admitted on Sunday shortly after arriving to camp that he lost his confidence last year, particularly from the right side of the plate.

But he was less candid about how much weight he lost during the offseason.

Spring Training info

"I don't weigh -- I don't weigh in at all," Sandoval said. "I just do my work and try to do everything I can. I don't weigh in all offseason. I just tried to get better and be in better position, like I said, and be an athlete."

That answer raised some eyebrows from the reporters who stood at Sandoval's locker, if only because manager John Farrell had spoken last month about the third baseman losing 20 to 22 pounds.

"I can't tell you if he got on the scale or not," Farrell said. "I can tell you that after visiting him in January, he looked like he was in better condition. I will say that when we met with every player at the end of last season, each player was given a specific plan, a workout routine, to go into the offseason."

Sandoval said that the Red Sox didn't tell him to lose weight during the offseason. Instead, as Farrell confirmed, they outlined a plan that would lead to that end.

"There was the need for Pablo to come back into camp in better overall condition," Farrell said. "I will say that typically when you come back in better shape, you're probably going to lose weight. To give a specific number of how many pounds were to be lost, we didn't give that to him. We gave it to Hanley [Ramirez], but we also gave a very clear message to Pablo that coming back in better shape was a marker and a goal for us."

Dating back to Sandoval's years with the Giants, his weight has been a topic. When he underperforms like he did in his first season with the Red Sox in 2015, it is going to be on the front burner.

Sandoval can reverse the narrative by having a better season in 2016 at the plate and in the field.

"I'm going to prove to the fans, to my teammates, that I can be a better defensive player and offensive player to win games," Sandoval said. "I have to work hard to get to that moment -- keep working hard, keep your head up and do everything you can do on the field."

In 2015, Sandoval had career lows in batting average (.245) and OPS (.658). Defensively, he made 15 errors in 293 chances for a fielding percentage of .949. In hindsight, Sandoval realizes he played too shallow at third base after years of being in the bunt-friendly National League.

Overall, it wasn't the type of showing the Red Sox were looking for after signing the switch-hitter to a five-year, $95 million contract.

Speaking of switch-hitting, Sandoval gave that up on May 24 after going 2-for-41 from the right side. He admits the mental toll it took on him last year to completely lose himself from that side of the plate.

"I lost my confidence," Sandoval said. "If you don't have that, if you don't feel confident at home plate from the right side, you're not going to trust your swing, and you're going to put pressure on yourself, and that's what I did."

This season, he will resume switch-hitting.

Sandoval couldn't finish out the 2015 season due to a bout with pneumonia. But once he recovered from that, he set about reaching some of the markers the Red Sox set out for him.

"I started working out to prepare myself to be an athlete on the field," Sandoval said. "That's what I did. I don't try to lose weight. I don't try to do [anything like that]. I just try to put in my work and feel better and do the things I can do on the field to get better out there. That's what I did."

Although Sandoval did work a lot on his right-handed swing and started taking grounders about two weeks ago, he said he did less baseball training than ever this winter.

"I did no work in the field, nothing," he said. "That's what I'm doing different. I'm just focused on being healthy, agility stuff, lifting weights, track and field, all that stuff I was doing."

At times, Sandoval seemed contrarian in his session with reporters. But there were other times he admitted how important it is for him to do better.

"You have to prepare yourself to be ready," he said. "When those down moments come, shake it off, and you work hard to do everything you can do to prove next year you can be better than that."