Sandoval poised for bounceback 2016

Sandoval poised for bounceback 2016

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Red Sox think that third baseman Pablo Sandoval is putting himself in position to bounce back in 2016.

"He's been working out hard," said Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, on Monday from the Winter Meetings. "He's been working out since the end of the season. We've had people down there visiting with him in Florida. Allard Baird, [senior vice president of player personnel], was just there last week visiting with him. He's doing great."

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Sandoval's first season with the Red Sox ended on Sept. 20 due to a bout with pneumonia.

"We're just looking for him to come in shape, working hard. I don't know if he's ever going to be svelte, but he'll be in good condition, which I think he is at this point," said Dombrowski. "He's worked extremely hard. In fact, a couple of times a day, he's been doing his workouts. He's in solid shape, good shape for him. Just come into camp ready to go."

Sandoval's first year in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million contract was underwhelming on both offense and defense.

"First year, sometimes in transition, if you get a big contract, it can be a year that's tougher on guys who put pressure on themselves," said Dombrowski. "I think he'll come back and have a better year for us and be a really solid player at the big league level."

Worth noting
• Dombrowski also had encouraging reports on others who had health problems late in the season, including Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz.

"Dustin's doing well. The way he's coming along, he's pain-free at this point. So it's really important for us to continue to talk to our guys internally, too," Dombrowski said. "I talked to Clay Buchholz. He's been doing well. That's extremely important for us. The winter has worked out well for us so far."

• Catcher Christian Vazquez, who missed all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery, is getting at-bats in Winter League action in Puerto Rico.

"He's swinging the bat, he's playing in Puerto Rico. He's doing it without pain. He continues his progression," Dombrowski said. "He's throwing, but he's not throwing in a game. We're not going to let him catch in a game. That was always the plan until we get to Spring Training. But he's doing very well, he's pain-free at this time, and he continues to build up toward being ready for Spring Training and the season."

At this point the Red Sox are hopeful that Vazquez will be ready for Opening Day.

"Well, I don't think you'll really know that until he gets there and starts throwing hard, but right now the feeling is he will be," Dombrowski said. "But until he goes out there, you just never know at that point."

• Though the Red Sox now have four solid relievers for the late innings, Dombrowski feels no need to trade from that depth.

"We're not really pursuing that, no," he said. "We kind of like the depth that we have. In today's game, if you can build the depth in your bullpen, all the better. Sometimes you're in a position you can do it, sometimes you can't. I really like the idea of having it, but also a strong starting staff. I think the combination is an appealing one, and I don't really look for us to move guys like that. Again, you never say anybody is untradeable, but we're not looking to do that."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.