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Pablo Sandoval’s former trainer on OM&F: ‘I’m sad for him that things have slid to this point’

04.15.16 at 12:16 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval's weight continues to be an issue in Boston. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Pablo Sandoval’s weight continues to be an issue in Boston. (Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports)

Personal trainer Ethan Banning, who worked with Pablo Sandoval for two years, checked in with Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Friday to discuss the third baseman’s fall from grace in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the OM&F audio on demand page.

Banning, the owner of Triple Threat Performance in Phoenix, was quoted in a Boston Herald story as saying Sandoval “needs to have somebody like me holding his hand” to ensure that Sandoval limits his eating. The second-year Red Sox player showed up overweight to spring training and lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw. After going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the first week of the season, the 29-year-old was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a shoulder issue.

“I’m sad for him that things have slid to this point,” Banning said. “The great thing about it is when bad things happen in life as athletes I think it’s an opportunity for to grow and learn. And I think he’ll do that. But [I] just wonder when it’s going to happen.”

Banning started working with Sandoval in November 2010, after the player was benched by the Giants in the World Series and warned he needed to stay in better shape. Their relationship ended in spring training 2012, shortly after Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract with San Francisco — despite the fact that Sandoval was an All-Star in 2011 and ’12. Banning said he has spoken with Sandoval’s brother and now-former agency since they parted ways, but the player has not returned.

Red Sox owner John Henry claimed that Sandoval tested out at 17 percent body fat shortly before spring training, but that claim was widely questioned.

“It was certainly misleading at the very least,” Banning said. “If he was 17 percent body fat, in the accurate sense of it, I’m not sure what they were measuring with.

Banning said the issue is Sandoval’s eating, as he’s shown proper dedication to putting in the work at the gym.

“He is fiercely competitive, and he enjoys working out. That’s not an issue whatsoever,” Banning said. “What we did to kind of offset that was I had a chef that was cooking all of his meals, and I did all of his menu writing. So he was eating five times a day plus two shakes a day. That way we could keep him fed enough so that he wasn’t hungry or didn’t have the cravings or urges to go make poor decision.

“He’s very competitive. And why I say that is he’d been told, ‘Hey look, you’re going to do this or this happens,’ and he got that ultimatum. And I guess it’s my opinion that that ultimatum was motivation enough to make the changes necessary.”

Banning said Sandoval needs to acknowledge he has a problem before he can fix it.

“I think that anytime there’s a challenge that you’re dealing with, the first thing that you have to do is recognize that there’s an issue,” Banning said. “And I think an awful lot of people around Pablo have certainly recognized there must be some issue. I’m not sure he’s fully grasped that concept or decided that that’s what it is. And I think that he really feels like he can have success being heavier. But we can look statistically clearly that he has more success being more fit. You can draw a straight line between those two things.”

The trainer added that Sandoval will need someone looking over his shoulder at all times to keep him on the right path.

“There’s got to be somebody around him that, one, he trusts, and two, that will speak truth to him,” Banning said. “Because clearly we all know there’s excellence in there and we have to cull it forth out of him. And that’s what I do. But whomever that is, whether it would be me or someone else, we had a relationship where I was safe for him and he trusted me and he allowed me to do that. And there came a point where — and I don’t know, to be honest with you, where we went with that and how it ended up not being the case anymore. But he has to find that again. Whether it’s with me or someone else, he’s got to find somebody that can sort of be his accountability. The comparison would be, you look at having a sponsor almost. You have somebody go around with him throughout the season that helps with that.”

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