Shaw or Panda? Hot corner duel heats up

Shaw or Panda? Hot corner duel heats up

JUPITER, Fla. -- With two weeks until Opening Day, the hottest topic in Red Sox camp is the competition at the hot corner between incumbent Pablo Sandoval and the emerging Travis Shaw.

For Monday's 4-3 win over the Cardinals, both were in the lineup, with Shaw playing at third and Sandoval as the designated hitter. But before anyone could read too much into that, manager John Farrell pointed out that it would be the other way around for Tuesday's game against the Marlins.

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Interestingly, Farrell did reverse course from two days ago, when he said the club would use this three-day trip on Florida's east coast -- which started Sunday -- to get Shaw a look in left field.

Those plans have been tabled, mainly because Farrell wants to evaluate Shaw at third as much as possible.

"To be as candid with you as possible, yes," said Farrell.

With a 3-for-4 performance on Monday, Shaw is hitting .474 (18-for-38) in the Grapefruit League.

"The one thing that stands out with Travis today, he's down 0-2 in the count, and he doesn't seemingly panic," said Farrell. "He's got good plate coverage and takes what the pitcher gives him for the double on that 0-2 at-bat."

Sandoval also had a strong day, going 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. He is hitting .290 after a slow spring start.

"Like I said, the first two weeks is to get the timing going," Sandoval said. "The last two weeks is the time to put all the pieces together to get ready for the season. That's what I'm doing right now."

Sandoval is a notorious streak hitter, which makes it hard to judge him solely off Spring Training at-bats.

Sandoval's groundout plates run

"I think that's where you have to look at the broader scope, and not base them solely on Spring Training, even though that's going to give you the most recent information," said Farrell. "You have to look at it over a bigger period of time, and factoring in last year as part of that. That's probably the best and most direct answer I can give you."

Farrell noted that the evaluation isn't solely based on offense, which is why they want to keep getting looks at how Shaw handles the glove at third.

"I think he's played the position with some ease," said Farrell. "He's shown some good range, particularly to his glove side. The internal clock and the range has been good."

Sandoval had a tough first season with the Red Sox on offense (.245 BA, 10 HR, .658 OPS) and defense (15 errors in 293 chances), and has been working hard this spring to try to bounce back.

Sandoval's RBI double to center

Though Sandoval is owed $75 million over the next four seasons, it has become increasingly clear the Red Sox will make their decision at third base based on projected performance rather than salary.

"Like I said, every day is a competition," Sandoval said. "Every single day. Every moment. Every guy competes to be better and better."

Does Shaw think he has a real shot at being the Opening Day third baseman?

"That's hard for me to say," Shaw said. "I would like to think that I am, but I'm just going to try to continue to kind of let my at-bats do the talking, and hopefully they'll speak for themselves. Like I said, I don't really know, I've never really been in this situation, so we'll see how that plays out."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.