CHICAGO -- His left shoulder surgically repaired, Pablo Sandoval is now out of sight and out of mind for the Red Sox.
Travis Shaw, who beat out Sandoval for the third base job in the spring, is showing that the Sox made the right move with his play at third and his strong start at the plate.
Shaw may not be a natural third baseman, or even an above-average one. But his range is superior to that of Sandoval and his offensive production strong.
The move was addition by subtraction. Disregard the salaries attached to both players: the Red Sox got better -- not worse -- when Shaw became the starter and Sandoval the stand-in.
But the notion that the Red Sox have arrived at some permanent solution here is a false one.
Yes, Sandoval will be gone from Fenway, exiled to Florida to rehab his shoulder, and perhaps, reshape his physique.
But he's not really disappearing. He'll just be in hiding for a few months. And when spring training begins next February, Sandoval will be a problem all over again for the Red Sox.
This surgery -- beyond repairing Sandoval's mysteriously injured shoulder - can be seen as kicking the can down the road. Sandoval's not really going away.
When 2017 begins, the Red Sox will still owe him $58 million over the next three seasons ($17 million in 2017, $18 million each in 2018 and 2019 and a $5 million option buyout for 2020).
For that, the Red Sox will get a player coming off major surgery who's performance has been in decline for several seasons, who can play only one position, and despite nominally being a switch-hitter, can actually only hit lefthanded.
What a treasure.
Trimming one year of salary off the $95 million mega deal signed by Sandoval helps some, but it's really only a small step. There's still a lot of money owed to a player who will soon turn 30.
In the unlikely event that a player with that profile could interest another team, Sandoval will start have to prove that he's healthy next spring. No team is going to take on even a portion of that contract without having it demonstrated that Sandoval's shoulder is in working condition.
Could Sandoval then be pawned off elsewhere? Perhaps. But it will require the Red Sox to subsidize a significant portion of that contract to faciliate a trade.
Whatever that price may be -- half of the reminaining money? - the Red Sox should pay it. It's clear that Sandoval won't ever be a contrbuting player in Boston.
The Red Sox have Shaw, just 25, as their third baseman of the present and future. They have Hanley Ramirez to either handle first base or slide into the DH vacancy to be created by David Ortiz's retirement.
If the Sox want Ramirez to remain at first, they could seek a veteran slugger like Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion to fill the DH job.
Or, they could have Ramirez move to DH and promote Sam Travis to be their first baseman.
Whatever plan they select, there's no role for Sandoval beyond "aging, overpaid, limited role player.''
That's not in anyone's best interest. So until the Red Sox find a more permanent solution, don't be fooled: Sandoval remains a burden - financially and otherwise -- who will, eventually, end up elsewhere.
CHICAGO -- "What We Learned" from the Boston Red Sox' 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night. . .
CHICAGO -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 4-1 loss to Chicago:
"He's rarely in the middle of the plate. He pitches to the edge very effectively. He's got a number of different looks he can give you.'' - John Farrell on White Sox starter Jose Quintana.
"We have such a heavily righthand-hitting lineup, you would think that our guys would be able to handle the off-side pitching coming at them. . . We're capable of more.'' - Farrell on the Sox 0-3 record against lefty starters.
"He's done everything that we could have asked, to get deep into games and low run situations -- and not just this year. This goes back to when he was in the rotation last year.'' - Farrell on tough-luck loser Steven Wright.
"That's what I'm working for every time.'' - Carson Smith on his scoreless inning in his Red Sox debut.
"It is what it is. Keep working and try to be ready on whatever opportunities come. That's all I can say about that.'' - Chris Young, on the infrequency of lefty starters.
"A little frustrated with the walks. I gave them the second run with the walks. When I'm out there throwing 20 pitches an inning, it's hard to get into a rhythm.'' - Steven Wright.
* The Red Sox have faced three lefty starters this season and are 0-3. They've managed two runs in 23 innings and hit just .108 (8-for-74) against them.
* When the opposition scores first, the Red Sox are 5-6 this season.
* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to nine games with a sixth-inning single.
* Dating back to last season, Steven Wright hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last nine starts.
* Hanley Ramirez's homer in the fifth was his first since April 6, covering 96 at-bats.
1) Jose Quintana
Chicago's starter was brilliant, allowing a single run in eight innings on just four hits without issuing a walk.
2) Jose Abreu
The White Sox first baseman drove in three of the four White Sox runs with a first-inning triple and a two-run double in the eighth.
3) Steven Wright
Once again, the knuckballer got almost no run support and was stuck with the loss despite allowing just two runs in six innings.