“If I had signed (with the Giants), I knew I would be under a (weight) regimen for five years, and I’m not going to be happy someplace where I’m under that kind of regimen, where I can’t be myself.”
That’s what Pablo Sandoval said after signing with the Red Sox last Spring, and the comments didn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’d followed Sandoval throughout the first several years of his career. With some version of “Camp Panda” seemingly an every-other-year occurrence, along with comments from Bruce Bochy and management, it was common knowledge that the Giants made Sandoval aware of their displeasure over his fluctuating weight on multiple occasions.
Red Sox beat writer Sean McAdam (CSNNE) went on the Toucher and Rich Show (The Sports Hub 98.5 WBZ-FM) and described one way the Giants attempted to keep Sandoval from overindulging on the road.
“This is how concerned the Giants were when he played for them, is that they would make special arrangements at the hotel the Giants were staying in to not allow him to order room service. They would tell the front desk management, ‘If he calls down for room service at night after games, do not send anything to this room.’ They went to great measures to try to cut down those eating binges. It would only work for a time, because he would find some place to get food.”
Sandoval lost his starting third base job to 25-year-old Travis Shaw in Spring Training, and recently went on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. “A supposed left shoulder injury that took everyone, including the team, by surprise,” according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who reported yesterday that Sandoval only wants to remain with the Red Sox if he gets regular playing time.
McAdam seemed to disagree with the part of Passan’s report that indicated Sandoval’s injury might have been conjured out of thin air by the Red Sox. However, McAdam did assess the entire situation as rather weird all around.
“They would love to find a way to move him, but they would also like someone to take the remaining $70+ million that accompany Mr. Sandoval and that is highly unlikely to happen. I also don’t think this is about inventing an injury — not on the team’s part, anyway. It’s possible that this is maybe some passive-aggressive ploy on Sandoval’s part because he’s upset about his reduced role and negligible playing time.
“But the whole thing’s a little strange. The Red Sox didn’t have a lot of information about how it took place, Sandoval said he woke up with it, some conference in the manager’s office with Mike Hazen, John Farrell and Dave Dombrowski the other day that took place before it was decided that Sandoval was going on the disabled list that lasted about two minutes. It’s a little strange. It’s more than a little strange.”
McAdam’s comments came on the heels of a Boston Herald report — in between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Sandoval gained 21 pounds in the 21 days he spent in Venezuela, causing his former personal trainer, Ethan Banning to not just babysit, but hide Sandoval from the Giants so they wouldn’t see what condition he was in. Banning had an interesting perspective on Sandoval’s personality, and why he has such a difficult time keeping weight off.
Banning said Sandoval is very competitive and truly a hard worker who could slim down again because he’s done it before, but it would take time.
Sandoval is also a fun-loving guy who doesn’t want to tell anyone no — “almost childlike,” Banning said.
“Twenty-one pounds in 21 days, that sounds unreal,” Banning said. “He loves to be loved by people. And he connects with people, and the way that (Venezuelan) culture connects is through food. Food is love to them.
“I flew down to Venezuela with him,” Banning continued. “When I’m there, I could say no to people and I could shake my head and people would walk away. We were there for five days, he lost a pound a day.”
At this rate, it seems pretty obvious that Sandoval’s best days are behind him. The Giants tried to keep his weight under control and it led to him fleeing to Boston. The Red Sox gave him an enormous contract, and he came into camp extremely out of shape following the worst year of his career. Now he’s on the DL, and even the Padres have cooled on acquiring him. He turns 30 in August, and no team that would consider using him as a DH would consider taking on his salary. Unless Sandoval decides that he wants to bounce back from this embarrassing period, which bottomed out when his belt surrendered to physics on a swing last weekend, he may force the Red Sox to either keep him on an extended DL stint where they harass him 24/7 about his diet and working out, or release him.