Comeback bid: Pablo showing pop, perseverence

Third baseman has 'a lot of things to prove' in 2017 season

Comeback bid: Pablo showing pop, perseverence

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The results are indeed impressive from Pablo Sandoval, as the third baseman walloped a couple of towering home runs in Saturday's 12-5 win over the Twins to continue his strong Spring Training.

But what is more important is the way it is happening.

Sandoval is whipping his bat through the zone with the type of force resembling what he would do during his hot streaks with the Giants.

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"Today is probably as good as you're going to see from Panda," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Another encouraging day. I would just describe it as another building block in his Spring Training to get back to previous levels. It's just good to see him playing the game as consistently as he is."

Sandoval's first homer was a rocket off a 95-mph fastball by righty Jake Reed. He is hitting .333 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in Grapefruit League action.

"I feel good at home plate," said Sandoval. "I think I got my bat speed back. It's one of the things that I'm looking for in the cage, trying to do the work I have to do to have good at-bats in the game."

Sandoval on offense, preparation

Though it seems clear that Sandoval will start at third base for the Red Sox on Opening Day, Farrell isn't ready to proclaim it just yet.

"He's done everything you're looking for," Farrell said. "I don't see any reason to say he's the guy. Just continue to go play. We'll put the best team on the field on a given day."

As Sandoval enters his third season with Boston, it looks like he is finally showing them the player they thought they were signing.

"Very different," Sandoval said of how he feels this spring. "A lot quicker in my hands. You work hard to get to this point. I'm going to keep maintaining the work to maintain all the processes of what you can do in the field."

After taking just six at-bats in 2016 due to left shoulder surgery, Sandoval is hungry to prove he can give the Red Sox some payoff on the five-year, $95-million contract that was signed in November '14.

"First, I don't think about myself," said Sandoval. "I think about my fans and teammates. This is a team I have a lot of things to prove for, because of the ups and downs in my career. You have to prove a lot of things right now. That's what I've been doing, and I'm going to continue doing it for the fans and my teammates who have respect for the game. I want to continue doing all the things I'm doing on the field."

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.