We've been waiting for a few weeks now to find out the fate of Pablo Sandoval's shoulder, and it's a worst-case scenario situation: the Red Sox third baseman will undergo shoulder surgery after receiving a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, according to Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal cites the Red Sox themselves as the source of this news.
Sandoval began 2016 on the bench after losing the starting job at the hot corner to Travis Shaw, who hit well in spring training following a .270/.327/.487 rookie campaign in 2015. The defense was the real separator between the two, though: it should tell you something that a 6-foot-4, 230 pound first baseman was playing a better third base than Sandoval in late-2015 as well as this spring. Given how well Shaw has hit to begin 2016 -- he's batting .322/.390/.533 and playing a decent third in the season's first month -- Sandoval wasn't going to get his job back even if his shoulder had been declared healthier than ever.
There is no word yet on how long Sandoval is set to miss thanks to his left shoulder, but it's fair to believe that 2016 is over for him, according to the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham. It was said above that surgery was "worst-case scenario" for Sandoval, but that might not be true: the best thing for him could very well be the time off allotted to him by surgery, as it could give him the distance he needs for the Red Sox and their fans to cool their anger at him -- remember, word is that the Sox wanted him to get himself into better shape, while Sandoval was reportedly unhappy with his role as bench player -- as well as the opportunity to work himself back into being the player he was when he signed a five-year, $95 million contract with them prior to the 2015 season.
If that seems unlikely, remember how things went for John Lackey after missing 2012 with Tommy John surgery following a 2011 in which the majority of Sox fans turned on the right-hander. In 2013, Lackey ended up being one of the integral pieces of a World Series championship, and all was forgiven.
Expecting the same from Sandoval is inviting disappointment, and that's not a knock on him so much as a reminder of how things tend to work in reality. If Sandoval heals up, though, and can eventually show that there is still a useful ballplayer there, the Sox might be able to find a role for him or send him elsewhere. That's more than they have with him prior to the surgery.
It should be said, though, that Sandoval is not coming back to a situation in which a job is easily attainable. Not only is Shaw at third base, but Hanley Ramirez is playing a solid defensive first base and it's too early to show much concern for his bat. Sam Travis is doing decently, not fantastically, at Triple-A, but unlike Sandoval, he has the rest of the season to prove be deserves a roster spot in the majors in a year.