Hill: Panda needs to perform to quiet Red Sox media, fans

Rich Hill grew up in the Boston suburbs and last year pitched for the Red Sox, so he has some insight into the razzing that third baseman Pablo Sandoval is getting from the fans and media in Boston for carrying too much weight around his gut.

Sandoval, the former Giant, is listed at 5-foot-11, 255 pounds, and based on the photos from the Red Sox’s workouts over the weekend, the second number is very likely an underestimate.

Hill, likely to be the A’s No. 2 starting pitcher to begin the season, said he thought Sandoval “was a great teammate’’ last year and is distressed to see the way a firestorm has erupted over Sandoval’s weight. It’s not the first time that the man known as Panda has had weight troubles.

“I don’t find it at all amusing,’’ Hill said Monday. “It’s not a matter of what you look like. It’s about how you go out and play, and for the time I was there last year, I thought he did all right.’’

Signed away from San Francisco a year ago by the Red Sox, Sandoval put together a slash line of .245/.292/.366 for Boston, numbers that were 43, 47 and 86 points below his career standards. So, yes, he failed to hit his weight.

Fans wasted no time in turning on him, and that seems to be carrying over to this season.

“Boston is a city of immediate feedback, good or bad,’’ Hill said. “That’s one of the things I like about it. You do well, you hear about it. You don’t, and you hear about that, too. It seems to me he just needs to go out and have the kind of year he’s had in the past and this blows over.

“I guess he’s always had weight issues. He just needs to go out and perform.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.