Back strain could sideline Freiman for 2 weeks

Setback might hurt his chances in battle for backup spot at first base

Back strain could sideline Freiman for 2 weeks

MESA, Ariz. -- A's first baseman Nate Freiman could miss up to two weeks of spring action because of a muscle strain in his back sustained from workouts, manager Bob Melvin said Thursday.

The setback puts Freiman at a major disadvantage in the competition for an Opening Day roster spot as a backup first baseman to expected regular Ike Davis. Rule 5 Draft pick Mark Canha, who must stay on the A's active roster all season or be offered back to the Marlins, seemingly now has the edge.

Freiman was already considered slightly behind Canha in the competition, given Canha's special situation -- with which Freiman is all too familiar, having made the A's Opening Day roster in 2013 as a Rule 5 Draft selection. Now, it appears almost certain Freiman will begin the season in Triple-A, as he did last year, barring an injury to Davis, Canha or Billy Butler.

Canha, who homered Wednesday against the Giants, was expected to split his time between first base and left field this spring, but look for him in right field, too, especially with Coco Crisp now stationed in left.

"It's good that he has some versatility," said Melvin. "If Coco were to DH against a lefty one day, you could see him in left or right, depending on the [Josh] Reddick situation. He just needs to be ready for all of [those positions]."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.