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Boston's Pablo Sandoval said he felt good in first rehab outing

Pablo Sandoval stepped into the batting cage as expected, taking pre-game swings with Pawtucket before the Red Sox faced the host Buffalo Bisons at Coca-Cola Field.

Then he switched out his bat for his glove, taking a few ground balls at third base, testing out that right knee that has kept him off the baseball field since April 24.

Sandoval said the knee was feeling good when he met with reporters after batting practice Friday night. The plan was for three plate appearances in his first Major League rehabilitation outing with the PawSox.

He went 0-for-3 against Bison starter Mat Latos, popping out along the left field line, flying out to seven and grounding out to third.

"First day after missing one month so happy to be back," Sandoval said after leaving the game in the fifth inning. "It feels good hitting. Batting is not the problem. It's going to be in the field when I move side to side and have to be quick."

He may get a chance to play the field on Saturday and Sunday. Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said the plan was for Sandoval to DH on Friday with the possibility of playing third base on Saturday and Sunday. All that is dependent on how his knee reacts to game action.

"We'll build up the innings from there but this is the first look at him," Boles said before Friday's game. "We'll get through the three at-bats and go from there."

But from batting practice Friday afternoon through to the end of his three at-bats, Sandoval said he felt good.

"My knee doesn't bother me," Sandoval said after batting practice. "It's one of the things I'm looking forward to this rehab assignment. I'm just going to focus on one thing -- being healthy. Try to be careful with the things I'm doing out there. But at this time I feel good, my knee feels good."

Sandoval injured his knee in Boston's game against the Baltimore Orioles on April 23. The third baseman, given the nickname "Kung Fu Panda" while playing in San Francisco, earned three World Series titles with the Giants, including earning World Series MVP honors in 2012. He owns the highest career post-season batting average (.344)  and was a National League All-Star in 2011 and 2012.

He signed with Boston in 2015. Last year he played just three games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season. That experience helped him learn about dealing with injuries.

"You want to be healthy every year. You want to be on the field every day. Perform well every day," Sandoval said. "When you get hurt ... it's frustrating but you have to keep the mentality the right way. Be strong to be back as soon as possible."

Originally listed as day-to-day with his injury, Sandoval has been sidelined for more than three weeks.

"Sprained knees, you have to be careful with those things," Sandoval said. "You have to be smart. ... It's one of the things you have to focus on, to be smart and play the right way."

Sandoval was one of three Boston players with the PawSox for MLB rehab. David Price was making the start and  outfielder Brock Holt was in the lineup, batting third and playing left.

Holt went on the disabled list April 21 with vertigo. He was pulled from Pawtucket's game on Monday, but returned to the lineup on Wednesday before sitting out Thursday.

"With him it's going to be how how he comes in day by day," Boles said. "Sometimes he wakes up in the morning, he's not feeling too good. Some days he's feeling great. We're in contact in the morning when he gets up to see how he's feeling and then we just see what the work load is from there."

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