Pablo Sandoval has been on the disabled list for a couple of weeks now with a shoulder injury, but it's unclear just how serious said injury is. This isn't meant to imply that it is not serious -- it's more that no one is sure if he needs rest and rehab or surgery in order to heal what ails him. The Red Sox should get their answer on Monday, when Sandoval sees Dr. James Andrews for the second opinion that he was supposed to get last week.
Sandoval was too sore for the examination last time around, which led to him getting a cortisone shot and the news that he would have to come back in a couple of weeks. Regardless of whether Dr. Andrews' recommendation is surgery or rest, it feels as if Sandoval is set to miss significant time: if the injury is serious enough that a second opinion with the most notable doctor in the industry is happening, then even a non-surgical solution seems potentially long and arduous.
That's all speculation, though: it's also possible that between the cortisone shot and the near-month of rest Sandoval has had since would have helped his shoulder along already. The question then becomes what the Red Sox do with Sandoval. When John Lackey received a cortisone shot in his elbow back in 2011, with the knowledge that he might very well need surgery in the future, Boston used him in the rotation through his struggles because they had no other choice. With Sandoval, Travis Shaw had already taken over at third base and has hit .318/.392/.470 to begin the year, so far topping his impressive debut from 2015. There's no need to rush Sandoval back even if surgery is unnecessary, because they would simply be pushing him back into a bench role.
And if surgery is needed? Then we probably won't see Sandoval again until 2017, which could be best for both sides. It takes pressure off of the Sox to find a solution to his playing time and roster spot issues in the present, and also gives them the full season to see what Shaw can or cannot do. It doesn't tell them what kind of player Sandoval will be going forward, but between Shaw, Hanley Ramirez, and maybe prospect Sam Travis, at least some questions will be answered that will help inform Sandoval's fate. It also lets Sandoval get away from the scrutiny and the anger fans have for him, and gives him an opportunity to come back in 2017 looking like the kind of player the Sox thought they were signing before 2015.
No one knows how this is all going to work out, but so long as this injury isn't somehow career-threatening for Sandoval, it might (improbably) end up helping him and the Sox out in the long run. We're getting way ahead of ourselves, though: let Sandoval get his second opinion before we delve any further into speculation.