Pablo Sandoval is headed to the disabled list with a shoulder strain, with Josh Rutledge headed up to Fenway to replace the beleaguered third baseman.
Sandoval hasn't been playing much at all, outside of sporadic pinch hit appearances and the one start. He hasn't done anything with that time either, going hitless in seven at bats and somehow still finding a way to commit an error in the 11 innings he's played. At this point, with Travis Shaw playing well in every possible way, the road back to a starting role--or, really, any significant role at all--is murky indeed.
Somehow, though, this doesn't actually make the team better. Sandoval was an awkward bench player given his defensive inflexibility and, frankly, general inability. But Josh Rutledge doesn't bring much of anything to the plate either. He has a decent bat for a utility infielder, but he's pretty bad on defense, even if it's hard to be as awful as Sandoval's been since coming to Boston. Ideally, we won't see him on the field or in the lineup. Which is the same that could be said about Sandoval, at least when we're talking about winning games.
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John Farrell, for his part, is talking up Sandoval as much as possible in the wake of this latest setback, suggesting he might have hurt himself by taking so many extra swings and putting his "full support" behind him. But is there really any fixing this by now? He's being crushed from all sides, and honestly, has brought no small part of it on himself.
It's hard to see Pablo Sandoval finding his way back in a Red Sox uniform. He'll probably be activated and back with the team at some point, and that will renew the acrimony all over again. For now, though, at least both sides can take a step--or twenty--back from the situation and maybe try to forget ti even exists.