Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval spoke Wednesday about recent criticism regarding his weight after he reported to spring training.
Barstool Sports' Jared Carrabis sent the Internet into a frenzy after he shared this photo from the Boston Globe:
In an interview with Rob Bradford of WEEI, Sandoval brushed aside the issue:
I don't pay attention to those things. They can say whatever they want. It just matters with how hard you work, and how hard you want to get things right. I just focus on my things. I don't focus on what other people say about. Now I focus on my own job, to support my teammates and prove to my team and the fans that I can do it on Opening Day.
According to WEEI's John Tomase, Sandoval said he is in better shape than he was at this time last year:
Pablo Sandoval just said his body fat percentage was 23% last year and is down to 17% now. "I'm proud of that," he said. "I worked hard."— John Tomase (@jtomase) February 24, 2016
USA Today's Jesse Yomtov chronicled how Red Sox personnel and Sandoval have offered differing accounts on whether he was asked to lose weight this offseason. General manager Mike Hazen discussed his weight with MLB Network Radio:
The two-time All-Star is coming off a poor first season in Boston, hitting .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 126 games. According to Baseball-Reference.com, he posted a minus-0.9 WAR, by far the worst of his career.
"You have to move forward," Sandoval said of the 2015 season, per Bradford. "All the things that are in the past, are in the past. At the end of the year, I just put something in my mind that I said, 'Everything is in the past, I'm going to throw it away. It's a tough season and I'm going to work hard and focus on the next one.'"
Sandoval signed with the Red Sox for five years and $95 million last offseason. For better or worse, he figures to have a big say on whether Boston makes the playoffs after missing out in 2014 and 2015.
The perception regarding Sandoval's weight will likely hinge on his performance on the field. When he's playing well, it will be less of a problem. When he's struggling, however, the scrutiny about his physical conditioning will only increase.