Sandoval: Boston just never felt like home
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Boston sports scene could have warned Pablo Sandoval he was in for significant culture shock after signing a five-year, $95million deal with the Red Sox after the 2014 season.
Trading the feel-good atmosphere of a San Francisco Giants team that had just won their third MLB World Series in five years for the suffocating pressure of Boston with a contract that made him an instant target turned out to be a colossal mistake -- aside from the not-insignificant factor of all of that guaranteed money.
Now safely ensconced back in San Francisco, three-time World series champion and two-time All-Star Sandoval felt compelled to share his feelings about the situation.
"At the end of the day, I just never felt comfortable in Boston," Sandoval wrote for The Players' Tribune.
"It had nothing to do with the organisation, or my team-mates, or the fans, or the city. Everybody was great to me. I think it was just something that happens sometimes -- you don't feel comfortable somewhere, or you don't fit in, even if you're in a place you chose to be.
"In Boston, I was lost. It just never felt like home."
Only 28 years old when he signed his megadeal, Sandoval said he came to believe his career was "over" as he suffered through by far the worst season of his career in 2015, then played in only three games in 2016 before having season-ending shoulder surgery.
His final slash line for his 161-game Red Sox career: .237/.286/.360, with just 14 home runs.
Injuries certainly were a factor, but Sandoval said there were intangible factors at work, too.
"I had the greatest times of my life in San Francisco," he said. "And when I chose to leave, I left the special group of guys that I had shared those times with. I left behind the chemistry I had built with my team-mates. I left behind a dynasty.
"And I think that's another reason I struggled so much the last couple of years: Because every day I spent in Boston, my heart was still back in San Francisco."