Thursday, February 03, 2011

Weighty Issue May Keep Pablo Sandoval Benched

Overweight third baseman Pablo Sandoval -- whose batting average plummeted from .330 to .268 and homers from 26 to 13 last year compared to 2009 -- has lost 15 to 20 pounds but "still has a ways to go," according to San Francisco Giants bench and infield coach Ron Wotus.

In a recent interview with KNBR Radio 680's Ray Woodson, Wotus warned that Sandoval cannot be expected to reclaim his status as a starter unless his conditioning demonstrates a "commitment to winning."

"We'll see how he is when he comes into (Cactus League camp in) Arizona, and then he has to keep the weight off," Wotus said of the portly infielder. "...How much the weight will affect him at the plate is hard to say. It definitely affects him in the field, his range and ability to move around."

Wotus agreed with Woodson that to earn time at the plate, Sandoval must be able to perform around the bag. Sandoval's weight is officially listed at 245, a lot for a man with a 5-foot-11 frame, but critics claim he may have weighed in as high as 270 last year.

The coach noted that Sandoval might also find at-bats at first base, but indicated there will be much competition around the infield, most notably from Mark DeRosa, returning from a season lost due to injury; Aubrey Huff, a veteran offensive force who has played both corners; and Brandon Belt, a 23-year-old, 6-foot-5, 200-pound, power-hitting rookie who has destroyed minor league pitching.

"Pablo is a special player and he has that special bat we need...if he can come back strong," Wotus said.