Red Sox manager John Farrell said today that Pablo Sandoval will not be handed the starting 3rd base job. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

Pablo Sandoval missed most of the 2016 season via a shoulder injury. Heading into 2016, the Red Sox are counting on Sandoval being a key member of Boston’s lineup in 2017. Sox manager John Farrell stated today that the Panda must earn the starting job and nothing will be handed to him.

“Pablo has done a great job of getting himself in better shape,” said Farrell via Ian Browne. “But what he does on the field and if he can get back to previous levels before signing here as a free agent, that’s what we’re hopeful of. But it’s a spot to be in competition for.”

Pablo’s main competition is utility man Brock Holt. Obviously, Boston would love to keep him in that role as Holt has played every position on the diamond other than pitcher and catcher providing valuable versatility. The Red Sox dealt Travis Shaw and Yoan Moncada this offseason so they have to have a lot of confidence in Sandoval’s ability to bounce back. Sandoval looks to have slimmed down heading into spring training.

If Sandoval falters, the Red Sox also have Matt Dominguez, Marco Hernandez, and Josh Rutledge. Top Prospect Rafael Devers is considered to be a few years away from making a big league contribution.