It looks like the Boston Red Sox could be getting their starting third baseman back relatively soon. Pablo Sandoval is set to start his rehab assignment on Friday.

Sandoval will be joining David Price on Friday with the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. The plan is for him to get swings in as a designated hitter for a few games. After that, he’ll take the field at third base.

While Sandoval has been out, the Red Sox have had a barrage of players attempt to grab onto third base.

Marco Hernandez, Brock Holt, Deven Marrero, Josh Rutledge and Steve Selsky have all seen time at the position. While some of them played well, the consensus is that they were an ineffective (and injured) group.

The main problem with the replacements has been defense. Aside from Marrero’s stellar glove, the group tended to make errors on a daily basis. Rutledge is the only one hitting well, but Hernandez wasn’t miserable before he got injured.

It should be noted that Sandoval wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire before his injury. While he was starting to heat up, he still had very pedestrian numbers.

The switch-hitter had a .213/.269/.377 slash line on the year. He had one double, three home runs, and 10 runs batted in through 17 games. But Sandoval was 8-for-23 (.348) in the seven games prior to his knee injury.

Even with his low numbers, Sandoval does bring a different presence to the lineup than any of his replacements would. While a lot of them are the hitters that pitchers intentionally walk to get to in a lineup, Sandoval is a little more feared.

It’s not that the replacements aren’t professional hitters, they just aren’t Sandoval. The 30-year-old has a career .286 average and over 500 RBI. The five replacements have combined for 247 RBI in their careers.

Sandoval gives the Boston lineup more power and another bat that pitchers won’t be afraid to just throw strikes at.

It’s unclear how long the rehab assignment will take, as it all comes down to how his knee progresses. The Red Sox should just be happy to know Pablo Sandoval’s on his way back.

Hunter Noll is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. Follow him on Twitter