It become increasingly clear as the 2015 season wore on. Pablo Sandoval’s weight was an issue.
Sandoval’s weight was a huge topic of discussion when the Boston Red Sox signed the third baseman to a five-year contract worth a reported $95 million. Discussions about Sandoval’s weight only intensified after his first season in Boston, arguably the worst of his career. Sandoval played in only 126 games, logging career lows in home runs, RBIs, batting average and OPS.
Sandoval — and now first baseman Hanley Ramirez — both were asked to lose weight entering the offseason, and Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski reported at Red Sox Winter Weekend that Sandoval has slimmed down some. Dombrowski also said Sandoval has been “really focused” on his conditioning.
That must be music to the ears of Boston manager John Farrell, who said Tuesday on MLB Network Radio that Sandoval is at his best when he’s playing lighter.
“I think he’s a better player, he’s more athletic, it shows up in an increased range in the position at third base when he’s on the lighter end of his weight,” Farrell said. “Let’s face it: His career path and his track record have probably had some of these highs and lows attached to it.”
Farrell knows that while offseason acquisitions of players like David Price and Craig Kimbrel got all the attention, it’s just as important for both Sandoval and Ramirez to be better in 2016.
“As we went through the free-agent season, we had that addressed and then it was time to really focus on our own players,” Farrell explained. “That was done before the end of the season with some goals and objectives throughout the offseason. Our players that are returning are equally important to all of the headlines grabbed by the free agents. And Hanley and Pablo are two key components to our lineup, our everyday lineup. They returning close to their normal performance is going to be huge as far as what this team is able to produce going forward.”
Farrell also indicated that Ramirez’s move to first base might actually help his offensive output, saying the 32-year-old never felt comfortable in the outfield. Additionally, Farrell confirmed Joe Kelly likely will head into spring training as the No. 5 starter behind Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Hear more from Farrell below.