There was universal dismay among Red Sox Nation when it became clear that the Boston Red Sox would place full faith in Pablo Sandoval to be their starting third baseman for the 2017 campaign.

And why would people be encouraged by this?

People saw a much larger Sandoval during last year’s Spring Training.

Sandoval’s a guy who was only on the field for 126 games in 2015 and only managed to bat .245. Most believed Sandoval would have his rebound season last year, until he showed up to spring training looking as if he had eaten whatever he wanted over the offseason.

During 2016’s spring training, Sandoval’s weight was one of the biggest storylines heading into the season. People’s faith in manager John Farrell was restored when he announced that Travis Shaw would be the starting third baseman and that Sandoval would begin the season on the bench.

You know the saying, “You get out what you put in”? Well, that’s exactly how the 2016 season would go for Sandoval.

In six at-bats, he managed to get zero hits. One of those at-bats was this disaster in which Sandoval’s belt literally exploded.

Sandoval played in just three games in 2016, and many believed that his time in Boston, and maybe even Major League Baseball, was done.

But when the Red Sox included Shaw in a package for Milwaukee Brewers reliever Tyler Thornburg, it became apparent that the Sox would be placing their confidence in Sandoval to hold down third base.

Fast forward to now, and it seems as if Sandoval’s back on the right track. Alongside his impressive weight loss over the offseason, Sandoval has been hitting really well in spring training.

Yes, I understand it’s just spring training. But in a situation like Sandoval’s, success in spring training is as imperative as it gets.

In 47 at-bats, Sandoval’s batting .362 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. Those are some pretty promising statistics. The Red Sox will most likely slot Sandoval around the sixth or seventh spot in the batting order. If he can manage to have numbers even close to those during the regular season, it’s a sure bet that the Red Sox will have one of the deepest orders in the majors.

Sandoval is 30 years old right now, and he’s not getting any younger. One source of motivation was the birth of his son last year.

“Everything changed when I saw my son being born,” Sandoval told USA Today. “I was able to spend time with him every day, watching him grow, waking up at 2 a.m. for his feedings. That’s what motivated me to get up early in the morning every day to go train.”

Sandoval surely wants his son to be able to see his father play baseball and succeed. At the rate that Sandoval was going, it looked as if his son would only hear of his father’s past postseason success and his three World Series rings.

With his mentality and drive strengthened from the motivation his son recently brought to him, it looks as if Sandoval’s son will get to watch his father play baseball for years to come.

And for the sake of the Red Sox, hopefully they get to as well.

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