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Sandoval benching just another headache for Red Sox

Pablo Sandoval said he accepted his benching Thursday for violating a team and MLB rule Wednesday night that prohibits players from engaging in social media during games.Jon Barash/AP

ATLANTA — Sometimes it feels as if the avalanche of negativity surrounding the Red Sox will never stop.

From Hanley Ramirez's effort issues, to firing pitching coach Juan Nieves (oops, that wasn't the solution?), to Wade Miley's temper tantrum, and now Pablo Sandoval's Instagram account.

The Red Sox benched Sandoval on Thursday for using his cellphone to "like" a woman's photographs on his Instagram feed while in the clubhouse during the seventh inning of Wednesday night's game against the Braves. Major League Baseball prohibits players' cellphone use during games.

Sandoval's actions reflect on manager John Farrell and whether indeed he does have control of his team.


Farrell was asked if this incident could get him fired.

"I respect the question," Farrell said. "I understand the environment in which we work. I understand that there's a lot of passion and currently a lot of frustration by many, and that includes our fans. I understand that.

"When situations arise, they're addressed head-on. But the same approach is applied every day. That is what we are doing daily to work at getting better. That's what I expect and I think that is what we demand from our players."

In terms of players doing what they want, Farrell said, "I don't think the clubhouse is one that has run amok. This is an incident that I believe is isolated. My focus is to continue to do what we can to get better on the field each and every day."

Sandoval said he went inside the clubhouse to use the bathroom. There's a bathroom down the steps of the visitors' dugout at Turner Field that he could have used. But Sandoval obviously went to his locker to look at his phone.

This, according to a few former players, is not an uncommon occurrence. The uncommon occurrence is actually pushing the "send" button.


For many players and celebrities, someone else manages their social media accounts.

Not this time. Sandoval admitted that he did it — or he did a nice acting job to protect someone else.

Sandoval met with Farrell Thursday afternoon and was immediately benched. He also met with his teammates and apologized for breaking a team rule.

An MLB source indicated Sandoval will likely get fined, but not suspended. But MLB was still investigating the incident as of Thursday night.

To Sandoval's credit, he gathered the media to apologize for his actions and said he accepted the punishment.

Sandoval also met with general manager Ben Cherington, who reinforced Farrell's penalty.

What a time to do this, when the team has hit rock bottom. When the manager and the GM (and assistant GM Mike Hazen) are trying to figure out what's going on with a team that should be in first place, not last.

This from a player who has been a big part of the "veterans only" meetings they've had. What was he thinking?

This was embarrassing.

"I never thought I'd see the day where a guy would be charged with breaking a rule over Instagram," said a veteran National League scout watching the Red Sox. "When it rains, it pours. When you're going bad, there's a reason you're going bad — the players' heads aren't in the game. And when that happens, they have to be put on alert, and that has to come from the manager."


It wasn't quite as bad as the Sox' chicken-and-beer escapades in 2011. This was a one-time incident as far as we know. And again, this was easy to find out.

"We never had a problem with Pablo in that regard," said Bobby Evans, GM of the Giants, Sandoval's former team.

When you're making $95 million, you should not only know the rules but abide by them. Sandoval knew the rule and broke it willingly.

Sandoval is a fun-loving guy and he apologized with a smile. He vowed it would never happen again. Farrell said he discussed the matter with the team and appeared by all accounts to lay down the law with the rest of the players.

Cherington was not too happy about what transpired or that he had to respond to something negative yet again, a day after taking the blame for the team's dismal team performance.

Asked whether he was concerned how this latest incident reflects on Farrell, Cherington said, "I'm not. This happened. Unfortunately it happened during a time when things aren't going well for the team. It's been addressed and we'll move on."

There have been too many issues. There have been too many times where the Red Sox have had to move on.

Sometimes you think, well he's a young guy and he's learning his way through the majors. But it seems the young guys are getting it. It's the veterans who seem to be sending the wrong messages.

There have to be more "last straws" for conduct issues. No, we don't know every conversation that's taken place between Farrell and his players. Maybe they have been dealt with sternly, but if they have, Sandoval didn't take those very seriously.


Cherington and Hazen's fact-finding mission on the state of the team has probably revealed a lot more than they expected. The road is always a good place to do this because there are fewer media, fewer distractions than at Fenway.

Bad things always seem to happen to bad teams.

Could it get any worse?

Just when you think it can't, the avalanche keeps coming and it just won't stop.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.