Sadly, I report today on my favorite player in MLB, Pablo Sandoval. He plays third base for the Boston Red Sox, or used to. He lost his job and rode the bench until he was put on the disabled list. Now he must undergo shoulder surgery.
You might not even recognize the name Pablo Sandoval. He is better known by his nickname, King Fu Panda, bestowed in 2008 by a former teammate. When he played for the San Francisco Giants, he was so well known that TV announcer Duane Kuiper often gave him a token introduction, closing the book on the previous hitter and saying something like, “Now the Panda will hit with one out.”
Pablo, the only player to homer in his first three at-bats in a World Series game, was a fixture with the Giants during their world championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014. He moved to Boston in 2015 with a five-year, $95 million deal. He has failed to meet expectations; in Boston such things become discussion topics, with speculation centering on his weight, maybe 280 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame. From his former personal trainer, quoted in the Boston Herald:
“He needs to be smart enough to say there’s a problem. It’s like the alcoholic that’s 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.”
We root for Pablo but well remember what one old-school scout put into a report about a player: “His best tool is his fork.”