Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval lost his starting job entering the 2016 season due in large part to weight issues, and the two-time All Star's former trainer attributes it to an eating problem.
According to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, trainer Ethan Banning believes the three-time World Series champion needs what amounts to a "babysitter" to prevent him from continuing out-of-control eating habits:
I care about him greatly. But it's a tough love. He needs to be smart enough to say there's a problem. It's like the alcoholic that won't admit he's an alcoholic: well, you can't address that you're an alcoholic if you don't ever admit there's a problem. He's got to address that.
He's proven to me and shown consistently that he's got to have somebody like me holding his hand doing that. And it's not an exercise thing, it's an eating thing. Obviously exercise is an important factor in it, a very important factor, but eating is going to be the component that needs to be managed and monitored. We had a chef on staff that cooked all his meals.
Banning trained Sandoval prior to the 2011 and 2012 seasons during his time with the San Francisco Giants and said he helped Kung Fu Panda slim down after gaining 21 pounds in 21 days during a Christmas visit to Venezuela in 2011.
While Banning hasn't worked with the 29-year-old veteran since 2012, he believes Sandoval will eventually commit to getting back in shape, per Drellich:
I think that he's embarrassed right now. I think there's going to come this moment that he's going to show everybody that this is not who he is. ... I don't know that it's going to be with me, but he's going to hire somebody like that. I think he's likely going to figure it out. But it's not going to be this season, and likely not with the Red Sox, the way it looks.
Sandoval recently went on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder injury, but Travis Shaw had supplanted him as the starting third baseman before that.
The Venezuela native hit a disappointing .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI for the Red Sox last season, and he doesn't have a hit thus far in 2016.
It is a significant fall from grace for a player who boasts a career batting average of .287 and is among the winningest players in baseball in terms of playoff success.
Sandoval has been and can be a star-caliber player, but if Banning's assessment is correct, he will need help to return to that level.
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