From broken belts to Instagram creeping: the lowest moments of Pablo Sandoval's disastrous Red Sox career

Alex Reimer
July 14, 2017 - 1:33 pm

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the highlight of Pablo Sandoval’s disastrous Red Sox career came on Nov. 24, 2014, when he was introduced to Boston for the first time. He said he was ready to “lead” the Red Sox, and then went off to take pictures with a man in a panda costume. 

It all went downhill from there. 

The Red Sox designated Sandoval for assignment Friday, meaning they’re prepared to eat the remaining $49 million on his contract. Sandoval only played in 32 games this season, which is 29 more than he appeared in the previous year. The Portly Panda was placed on the disabled list June 20 with an ear infection. 

Coming off a last-place season in 2014, the Red Sox inked Sandoval to a five-year, $95 million contract so he could play an integral role in another worst-to-first turnaround. But those plans were quickly aborted, when he entered Spring Training woefully out of shape. 

Sandoval’s 2015 campaign was an incredible disappointment, as he hit .245 with a .658 OPS and 10 home runs. It was the fourth consecutive year in which his OPS had declined. 

But that was the most productive season Sandoval ever enjoyed in Boston. He finishes his Red Sox run with a batting line of .237/.286/.360, and played atrocious defense at third base to boot. 

As WEEI’s John Tomase points out, the Red Sox went 69-81 when Sandoval started and 221-192 when he did not. Those two numbers almost tell the entire store of his futile run. The rest of the picture can be filled in with his litany of lowlights. Five of the most embarrassing are below:

Challenging then-Boston Globe reporter Steve Silva to a workout contest

In hindisght, Silva’s viral photo of Sandoval in February 2017 was a bad omen for his Red Sox run. In response, Sandoval said the photographed showed him at a “bad angle,” before challenging Silva to a workout contest.

I want (Steve Silva) to spend one day with me to see how hard I work. So I'm ready,” Sandoval said.

Slamming table with a bat during rant at Red Sox beat writer

Sandoval occasionally took out his frustrations on the press. One of the more infamous examples came in March 2016, when he confronted MassLive’s Christopher Smith, who accurately reported that some advanced metrics characterized Sandoval as the worst defensive third baseman in the league the previous season.

A witness said Sandoval “blew up” at Smith during his tirade, and slammed his bat on the table for good measure. 

Sandoval exiting a game due to dehydration ... in the year 2015 

Sandoval took himself out a game against the White Sox on July 29, 2015 with what the club called dehydration. Two innings earlier, he had tried to score from first base on a ball hit into the right-center field gap –– and was thrown out.

Farrell didn’t explicitly call out Sandoval after the game –– that didn’t start happening until this season. But he did heavily imply that Sandoval wasn’t in proper playing shape when asked if conditioning might be an issue. 

"That's something Pablo has dealt with his entire career," he said. "It continues to be addressed. I can't say tonight is a direct result of that. There are ongoing efforts to support that, to try to get him in the best shape possible.”

Sandoval limped along during the dog days of summer, hitting .210 over the second half of the season. 

Creeping on Instagram during a game

Sandoval learned the hard way that Big Brother is always watching. During the Red Sox’ game against the Braves on June 17, 2015, Barstool Sports’ Jared Carrabis noticed that Sandoval “liked” a picture of an Atlanta-based Instagram model named “diva_legacy.” The producers for WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan” determined that Sandoval was online during the seventh inning, where he was due to bat sixth.

Caught red-handed, Sandoval apologized for his actions. The Red Sox benched him one game for violating the club’s social media policy.

The broken belt

The one moment that perfectly encapsulates Sandoval’s tenure in Boston came on April 9, 2016, when he broke his belt while swinging at a pitch.

The Red Sox paid Sandoval $2.8 million per at-bat that season, and $17 million for one broken belt. But the memories are priceless.

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