If Pablo Sandoval’s Instagram account is any indication, he’s in for a bounce-back 2017 season. But both Sandoval and the Boston Red Sox know workout videos don’t count as base hits.
The Red Sox third baseman has been working this offseason to return from a shoulder injury that kept him out nearly all of 2016. Boston hasn’t acquired a third baseman this winter (and even traded away Travis Shaw), meaning the hot corner should be Sandoval’s to lose entering spring training.
So, what are the team’s expectations for the 30-year-old as he enters his 10th major league season? Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski offered his thoughts Friday on the “Baseball Tonight” podcast of ESPN’s Buster Olney, providing specific numbers he hopes Sandoval can produce.
“I think he can come back and be a good, dependable, everyday third baseman for us, from an offensive and a defensive perspective,” Dombrowski told Olney, via ESPN.com. “I think if he can go out there and hit .270 to .275 and hit 12 to 15 home runs and knock in 70 to 75 runs at third base for us, I don’t think that’s asking too much of him. He’s done those types of things in the past.”
Sandoval posted almost that exact stat line during his last season with the San Francisco Giants, hitting .279 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs in 2014. The two-time All-Star once was capable of more — he drove in 90 runs in 2009 and hit 20-plus homers with a .300-plus batting average in two separate seasons — but in Boston’s potent lineup, numbers like those aren’t exactly necessary.
“He doesn’t need to carry us; he just needs to give us solid play at third base,” Dombrowski added.
Sandoval has set the bar pretty low after an underwhelming 2015 and a practically absent 2016, but Dombrowski is hoping the New Year brings a new Panda.
“He’s worked very hard this winter,” Dombrowski added. “I think he’s driven to show that he is still a real solid major league player.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images