Its not always that the hot topic of conversation among Red Sox fans or sports talk radio hosts is the same topic thats being discussed inside the walls of the organization, but when it comes to Pablo Sandovals , the team has reason to care. Manager John Farrell, who said last year at this time the Sox were not concerned about his , offered a different view yesterday, shortly after the third baseman arrived to spring training. There was the need for Pablo to come back into camp in better overall condition, Farrell said. Heres why, and its not just so Sandoval is more visually appealing when in uniform The Red Sox cannot afford another defensive liability. The club is already taking a sizable risk in transitioning Hanley Ramirez to first base, his fourth position in five seasons (shortstop and third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers left field for the Sox). If Sandoval were to return to his glory days as a third baseman â" he was statistically an above-average defender in three of his previous four years with the San Francisco Giants before signing with the Red Sox and was once nominated for a Gold Glove â" pitchers could get a little extra help. With Sandoval on the field last season, the Sox lost 32 games by one or two runs. Sandoval was considered one of the worst defenders in the game, providing the Sox with -11 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs.com. In other words, with simply replacement-level defense at third base instead of Sandoval, the Sox would have allowed 11 fewer runs last year, perhaps winning some of those one- or two-run games. Sandoval also cost the club with his poor baserunning, once even getting thrown out trying to go from first to home on a ball hit into the gap that slowly rolled to the fence. He had to come out of the game due to dehydration. These are issues the Sox are hoping to avoid this year, and thats why theyve asked Sandoval to trim down.
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