Slimmed-down Panda, Sale arrive at Sox camp

Slimmed-down Panda, Sale arrive at Sox camp

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While many of their fans dug out of a blizzard 1,200 miles to the north, the Red Sox were out in full force five days ahead of the first official workout for pitchers and catchers.

There were more than 25 players on hand for an early-bird workout at the Fenway South facilities, including a notably slimmed-down Pablo Sandoval and newly-acquired lefty ace Chris Sale.

The early arrival of Sandoval was evidence of his desire to win back his job as the starting third baseman. Last spring, Sandoval was among the last players to report to camp.

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Position players don't have their first formal workout until Feb. 17. Sandoval was smiling as he roamed around the complex, and he took rounds of batting practice from both sides of the plate.

"He worked his tail off and you can definitely tell," Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. said. "I'm happy to see him. I'm happy to see him happy. I'm glad to see his smile and his energy back. You can tell he has a chip on his shoulder."

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Sandoval, who will wait until the full contingent of Boston media arrives early next week to do interviews, easily looks as if he's lost 40 pounds. This isn't the first time that Sandoval has shed 40 pounds in one offseason. He did so prior to the 2011 campaign and went on to hit .315/.357/.552 while making his first All-Star appearance.

"I'm not amazed just because I know how hard he worked," Bradley said. "He's really put in the work. He's been very consistent with it. He's been honest. What more can you ask than a guy that has been coming here every day and getting his routine done. And he's getting it done at home too."

All eyes will be on Sandoval this spring as he tries to erase the bitter taste of a tough first two years in Boston. With Travis Shaw now in Milwaukee and Yoan Moncada with the White Sox, Sandoval's main competition for the hot corner in Brock Holt.

In addition to Sandoval, Sale and Bradley, the fields were filled with the likes of Rick Porcello, David Price, Blake Swihart, Sandy Leon, Christian Vazquez and Holt.

It was a scene sure to delight the snow-bound fans back home in Boston.

"I think as a team, we are expected to be very competitive but we also know as a team nothing is going to be given to us," Bradley said. "You've still got to go out there and play the game. Nobody is going to give you a win just because you show up."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.