Sandoval at Last Year's Spring Training

Sandoval at Last Year’s Spring Training

By Brian Danuff 2/11/2017

The Kung Fu Panda is back. Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval arrived at the team’s spring training complex in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday, a full week before position players are scheduled to report.

The switch-hitter took batting practice from both sides of the plate and appeared to have lost a significant amount of weight.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third year of a five-year, $95 million contract he signed in December 2014. After a disappointing debut season in Boston, Sandoval missed the entire 2016 season due to a torn labrum. He had also shown up to spring training overweight and lost his job as the starting third baseman to Travis Shaw.

With Shaw being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers over the offseason, the Red Sox have once again entrusted Sandoval with the hot corner. The hope is that he can get back to being the player he was with the San Francisco Giants, where he hit .294/.346/.465 over seven seasons.

Three of those seasons resulted in the Giants winning the World Series, thanks in no small part to Sandoval’s postseason heroics, as he was named the 2012 World Series MVP.

Since David Ortiz retired and the Red Sox replaced him with a far inferior DH in Mitch Moreland, Sandoval’s production is essential to keeping the lineup as potent as it was last season, when it led Major League Baseball in runs scored (878) and batting average (.282).