FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval hopes his son can remember him playing professional baseball.
“I want to be able to play eight more years on the field so I can show my son and he can see his dad play when he is grown up,” Sandoval said.
A two-time All-Star with San Francisco before joining the Red Sox ahead of the 2015 season, Sandoval shed weight and pledged to “start his baseball career over again.”
Since signing a $95 million, five-year contract with Boston, he hit .242 with 10 homers and 47 RBIs in 129 games.
Sandoval had back and shoulder problems and some expressed concern over his conditioning and weight — he was generously listed at 255 pounds last season.
“There’s a lot more sense of redemption on his part where he’s looking to make up from the previous two years,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Although he wouldn’t specify how much weight he lost, Sandoval was noticeably slimmer when he arrived Thursday than he was at this time last season. He credits a joint workout program between his personal trainers and the team that began daily at 5:30 a.m. He took up boxing to help strengthen his shoulders, and he tried to eat better.
“Everything. Everything. I have to prove everything,” Sandoval said. “Especially when you come in from an off year, after the injuries, I have to prove a lot of things to the fans, to the team, to you teammates.”
His teammates noticed a change in more than just his waistline. Red Sox designated hitter Hanley Ramirez said Sandoval appears more focused.
“We just had to build his confidence back and let him know that we’ve got his back,” Ramirez said. “We need him to win.”
Farrell has said the third base job is Sandoval’s to lose. Travis Shaw, Boston’s primary third baseman last season, was traded to Milwaukee. Sandoval will compete with utilityman Brock Holt along with Josh Rutledge, Matt Dominguez and Mike Olt.
“He’s driven,” Farrell said. “He’s highly motivated and he hasn’t lost his skills, so at least the ingredients are there to be a productive player again.”