Pablo Sandoval’s weight isn’t concerning to Boston Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
Sandoval is facing questions about his conditioning for the second consecutive spring training, but Dombrowski opted Monday to support the Red Sox third baseman rather than pile onto the outside criticism when asked about his stance on Kung-Fu Panda’s large frame.
“I’m not concerned,” Dombrowski told the Boston Globe about Sandoval, who is listed at 5-11, 255 pounds on the team’s website. “We were watching him very closely all winter. We had people with him at least once a week. The goal was for Pablo to get in better overall condition and I feel like he did improve.”
Sandoval always has been a big guy, though his weight has fluctuated at points in his career. It was viewed as a potential problem last spring going into the first year of a five-year, $95 million contract he signed with the Red Sox, and the heat only intensified as the two-time All-Star struggled both offensively and defensively in 2015.
Sandoval hit a career-low .245 with 10 homers and 47 RBI, while making 15 errors last season. The homers and RBI were personal worsts since he’s been an everyday player in 2009.
Dombrowski wasn’t around when Sandoval signed with Boston. He also wasn’t around last spring when an unflattering photo created mass hysteria in Fort Myers, Fla., the spring training home of the Red Sox. Boston’s president of baseball operations, who was hired in August, obviously cares immensely about how Sandoval performs moving forward, though.
Yet he still isn’t kicking up a fuss about Sandoval’s weight. As far as Dombrowski’s concerned, Sandoval hasn’t done anything wrong with regard to his conditioning.
“I will tell you, I can 100 percent back him as far as the hard work he put in this winter time, because he really has done a good job in that regard,” Dombrowski told the Boston Herald on Monday. “And he’s continued to be committed to doing that.”
The Red Sox monitored Sandoval’s workout situation throughout the offseason, according to Dombrowski, who told The Globe that the organization never specified what Sandoval should weigh upon arriving at spring training. The Sox asked Sandoval’s teammate, Hanley Ramirez, to lose a specific amount of weight, but, as Dombrowski pointed out, the circumstances of the two situations are much different. Ramirez is returning to the infield after bulking up last season to play left field, while Sandoval has proven in the past — with the San Francisco Giants — he can thrive at third base even while carrying a few extra pounds.
“From our perspective, it’s more of a positive,” Dombrowski told the Herald. “If you were thinking (Sandoval) was going to be svelte, it’s not going to happen. He’s always been (heavy) like that. And he’s not the only player throughout his career in which that has happened. That’s just him.
"It’s one of those things where people look at an individual, and if they’re performing well, they look at it and they say, ‘Well, that’s just how he is.’ And if he’s not performing well, they look at it and they blame the conditioning aspect of it. I’ve seen that with other players. I understand that’s how it works. But that’s pretty much going to be him.”
In other words, there’s a reason Sandoval is referred to as “The Panda.” And if he bounces back in 2016, his critics will be eating crow, no matter how justified the concerns seem at the moment.