Werner: Panda will be prepared for Opening Day

Werner: Panda will be prepared for Opening Day

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though Red Sox chairman Tom Werner wasn't thrilled by the shape Pablo Sandoval arrived to camp in, he said the key is how the third baseman performs in his second season in Boston, which starts on April 4 in Cleveland.

"As I think [president of baseball operations] Dave [Dombrowski] and [manager] John [Farrell] have said, this is a man who has performed at the highest level," said Werner during an informal media gathering on Tuesday. "He knows what it takes to be successful. He's won three World Series. He's a World Series MVP. I think they've handled it well internally. From my own perspective and the organization's perspective, what he does starting April 4 is what's important."

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In a radio interview with WEEI that took place after Werner met with reporters, he was asked if he was disappointed at the way Sandoval looked when he arrived to Spring Training on Sunday.

"Yes I was," Werner told hosts Lou Merloni, Christian Fauria and Glenn Ordway. "But I think the most important thing, and I think we'd all agree on this, is how is he going to be on April 4 and how is he going to be on May 4? Certainly there have been some private conversations that have been had between Pablo and Dave Dombrowski and John Farrell, and I would like to say as somebody who knows Pablo, he has a tremendous work ethic."

After signing a five-year, $95 million contract to come to the Red Sox, Sandoval's 2015 season was probably the worst of his career. He hit .245 with 10 homers, 47 RBIs and a .658 OPS.

"If he had a bad year last year, I think we can chalk some of that to the challenge of coming into a new division and a new league," Werner said. "I know that he is going to be prepared on Opening Day, and then I think this story will have died out and there probably will be another 25 other story lines."

Here are some other topics Werner discussed with reporters on Tuesday.

• After finishing last in three out of the past four seasons, Werner feels the Red Sox have made the moves to get back to contention.

"I think that we certainly went into a new direction last year [hiring Dombrowski]," Werner said. "Our job is to hopefully provide the leadership and resources to be successful. We are accountable for the last-place finishes. We don't take it lightly. We want to give the fans a competitive ballclub every year. We believe we've done that. Even though we're in Boston, which is the 10th largest media market, we're consistently among the top two or three in terms of payroll. And hopefully we are going to turn things around this year.

"I think we're optimistic. The charge was obviously not to have a season like the last two seasons. I think Dave and [general manager] Mike [Hazen] and baseball ops have done a great job of strengthening the front end of the rotation, the back end of the [bullpen], acquiring Chris Young, so I'm optimistic. But we have to play a lot of baseball."

• The Red Sox gave Farrell a contract extension a year ago that takes him through 2017 with an option for '18. But after back-to-back finishes in last place, how much pressure is Farrell under to get off to a quick start?

"We're all very motivated," Werner said. "We all know we have a responsibility to our fans to improve. John has a lot of internal [expectations]. I know he's very tough on himself. He knows we live in a tough, competitive environment. We don't need to tell him what the pressure is; he knows that. I'm just happy he's here, happy he looks healthy and he's excited about starting the season."

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