FORT MYERS, Fla. — Pablo Sandoval has become a $95 million bench player.
The Boston Red Sox announced before their final spring training game Thursday that Travis Shaw, a 25-year-old who made his big league debut last May, will be their starting third baseman.
Most popular baseball stories
“If it’s the right decision to help the team win, I’m going to be happy. I’m going to be ready for the bench. I’ll get ready for everything in the season and do my job,” Sandoval said. “It’s going to be difficult. I have to be happy and do a great job. It’s still a fantastic spring. ... Nothing is easy.”
Sandoval hit .245 last season with a .292 on-base percentage, .366 slugging percentage, 10 homers and 47 RBIs. A switch-hitter he gave up hitting from the right side. Sandoval missed spring training games due to back soreness after he dove for a ball on March 22 off the bat of the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.
Known as Kung Fu Panda for his physique, he appeared to be well over his listed 255 pounds when he reported for spring training in February. But the Red Sox said they were not concerned by his weight and principal owner John Henry said Sandoval’s body-fat ratio was 17 percent, down from 21 percent last season.
“For right now, to start the season, feel this is the best for our team, to go with this alignment,” manager John Farrell said. “My focus is on the guys that are in uniform, not what’s attached to them or what their contract states. We’re all about evaluating and what’s best for our team.”
Sandoval, 29, won three titles with San Francisco and was the 2012 World Series MVP. He is owed $17 million this year in the second season of a $95 million, five-year contract.
Shaw hit .270 with 13 home runs and 36 RBI in 65 games last season.
“I feel I did what I needed to do this spring to put myself in this position. I’m really looking forward to experiencing my first opening day,” Shaw said. “Being able to start on Monday is going to be really exciting.”