Sandoval visits Sox, vows to 'do a better job'

Third baseman appeared in three games this year before undergoing shoulder surgery

Sandoval visits Sox, vows to 'do a better job'

ST. PETERSBURG -- Pablo Sandoval took a break from his season-long rehabilitation from shoulder surgery to check in with the Red Sox at Tropicana Field on Wednesday. The third baseman has been training in Fort Myers, Fla., about 90 minutes from where Boston is playing the Rays.

He would have liked to be with his team for all four games of the series, but he couldn't disrupt his rehab for too long. Sandoval has been working six days a week, trying to regain his mental and physical form ahead of the 2017 season.

"You learn a lot of lessons from the mistakes you make," said Sandoval. "It depends how you feel, how you want to handle things. But now that I learned my lesson, I have to prove to myself that I can do a better job out there."

Sandoval, who was working out on the field before batting practice on Wednesday, has been out since April 10, playing in just three games this season. He struggled during Spring Training and didn't break camp as the starting third baseman, losing the job to Travis Shaw. Sandoval hit just .245 with 10 home runs a season ago in his first year with Boston and didn't register a hit in six at-bats this season.

Sandoval started taking ground balls for the first time on Monday, and he is working to get back to more consistent baseball activities. His shoulder is "not back to normal," but it is feeling better.

Sandoval isn't sure when he'll start swinging a bat. He'll meet with Dr. James Andrews before then, but there's no date scheduled for that visit. And as of now, Sandoval said he won't be playing winter ball.

"The one thing that's clear in getting to know Pablo -- to me, it's clear that he's got a lot of pride," manager John Farrell said. "Maybe things haven't worked out as he anticipated, as many have anticipated through the first two years. But it's clear through my conversation over the course of time that he's been in Fort Myers and today, that he's motivated and he feels like he's got a lot to prove."

Sandoval is living with his family in Fort Myers. He just became a father three months ago and said being a Major Leaguer long enough for his son to see him play is a constant motivation for him during the rehab process. He stays in contact with his teammates, but tries not to talk about baseball much.

Sandoval was candid when asked if he thinks he's shown his best to the Red Sox, repeating the word "no" three times. He's happy with the things he's doing now, but far from satisfied with how he's played since joining Boston.

"I'm just going to come here as the best I can," Sandoval said "I just want to do the best thing that will help us on the field. Do the things that I know. I just want to be ready for next year."

Smith making strides

Red Sox reliever Carson Smith was also with the team on Wednesday. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May.

Smith started working out nearly two months ago, and only recently started lifting weights. He hopes to be throwing in 3 1/2 weeks and plans to keep his rehab in Fort Myers until mid-October, before moving it to Houston to work with a physical therapist.

"Everything has been smooth," Smith said. "I've talked to guys that have had much more problems than I've had. My problems have been very minimal. Just normal day-to-day stuff."

Smith was acquired by the Red Sox from the Mariners in the offseason, but he only pitched 2 2/3 innings. He saved 13 games with Seattle last season and posted a 2.31 ERA.

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.