Even though manager John Farrell declared earlier in camp that the Boston Red Sox’s third base job was up for grabs, there still was a widespread belief that Pablo Sandoval had the inside track over Travis Shaw because of his hefty contract and his major league résumé.
Farrell, in essence, threw a curveball Thursday when he announced Shaw would start over Sandoval to begin the 2016 season.
David Ortiz was among those expecting fastball despite telling Shaw to make the most of his spring training opportunity. After all, Sandoval is a three-time World Series champion and a two-time All-Star earning more than $17 million this season. Shaw has just 65 games of big league experience and is slated to earn close to the major league minimum in 2016.
“I kind of heard about it in batting practice,” Ortiz told WEEI.com after Farrell announced his decision Thursday. “It’s a real surprise. I guess it surprised you all, too. You would say that Panda is the starting third baseman, and he’s a guy that’s been working extremely hard this spring training. From my standpoint, it was a surprise.”
Sandoval initially took the news in stride, telling reporters he was “happy” with the decision and that he even thought it was the “right decision.” Things changed a bit Friday when Sandoval’s agent questioned the Red Sox’s handling of the situation, but Ortiz expects the veteran third baseman to continue working hard even after being benched.
“He’s hanging in there,” Ortiz said of Sandoval, according to WEEI.com. “Just gave him the advice to keep working and control what he can control. He’s got no issues with Travis. Travis is a kid, he worked extremely hard, and it is what it is.”
Farrell wasn’t joking when he said third base was an open competition. It could be an interesting season if the skipper maintains such an aggressive approach with regards to roster decisions.
Thumbnail photo via Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Pablo Sandoval and David Ortiz
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