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Pablo Sandoval out with injured back while fighting for Red Sox job

Sandoval might have hurt himself at just the wrong time, but it's still unclear.

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

It's been a rough spring training for Pablo Sandoval. His appearance and weight were criticized when he arrived in camp -- even though the Red Sox were happy with the work done to both -- and he started off slow at the plate and in the field. His job was very publicly put into a competition with Travis Shaw, and at the time when his performance seemed to be rebounding, he's been interrupted.

Sandoval is going to miss a "couple days" with a back injury caused by diving for a grounder on Tuesday. It's poor timing as he's still very much competing with Shaw for the Opening Day spot at third base, and since back injuries can occasionally linger, it might end up being something bigger than just a couple days. It's also figures that this is how he would end up hurt, since it's the kind of play that made him such a valuable defender prior to 2015's disaster season.

It could also be just a couple days, as manager John Farrell said -- at this point, it's just being considered back stiffness, which certainly is a thing that can happen -- and Sandoval is right back in the mix once they are over. Any negative mark against him could be the one that causes him to lose the third base job to Shaw, though, so even a minor injury isn't one to be taken lightly at this stage of the spring.

With any luck for both Sandoval and the Sox, he'll be back before the week is out, and the competition can resume as normal. If Sandoval is going to lose his job, it should be because he didn't play as well as Shaw, not because injury took him out of the game.