The Red Sox had said all along that they were comfortable keeping Shane Victorino off the disabled list so long as, by the end of the current three-game series in Toronto against the Blue Jays, it looked as if he was nearing a return from his lower back strain. Mission accomplished.
Victorino took full batting practice on the field prior to Thursday’s game, and not only will he be available to play against the Rangers in the upcoming weekend series in Texas, but he’ll also be available as a bench option in the series finale against the Blue Jays.
“He tried to talk his way into the lineup today, but we’re holding him out,” manager John Farrell told reporters. “He’s available tonight, so if a game situation calls for it, he is available. Everything points towards him being back in the lineup tomorrow.
“It’ll be better news as long as we don’t have recurrence, which is why we’re taking the extra day just to be that much more cautious, but he’s done a tremendous job for us in all phases of the game,” Farrell added. “In his absence, though, we’ve gotten very good production from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes, and it’s provided additional at-bats to those two guys to get some regular playing time and get back in the flow of things. Coming out of spring training, it’s been sporadic work. I always try to look at the silver lining in it. But getting Shane back will be a boost for us.”
Victorino, who has been out of the lineup for seven games since suffering his injury against the A’s last Wednesday, is hitting .292 with a .358 OBP and .319 slugging mark.
OTHER RED SOX NOTES
– The Red Sox had planned to have David Ortiz sit in one of the three games at Rogers Centre. That game became the series finale, something that allowed the Sox to shift Mike Napoli from playing defense on the artificial turf in Toronto to the DH role, with Carp getting a game at first base.
– Left-hander Craig Breslow will continue his rehab by pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday and again on either Saturday or Sunday, at which point the Red Sox will re-evaluate whether he is ready to be activated off the disabled list. Left-hander Franklin Morales, who had his rehab from a lower back stopped as a result of soreness in his pectoral muscle, is throwing at 120-130 feet. Farrell told reporters that Morales likely will need a couple of bullpen sessions (the first of which is expected to come off a mound during the Rangers series this weekend) before he can start another rehab assignment.
As of now, the Sox are planning to stretch him out as a starting pitcher. However, if a bullpen need for a left-handed pitcher arises, the Sox could alter course with Morales.
– Right-hander Daniel Bard had a second straight ugly outing since his return to Double-A Portland, this one arguably as bad as any he had at the height of his struggles last year. He recorded one out (via strikeout), but walked two batters and had a pair of wild pitches while throwing just four of 15 pitches for strikes. That followed a Sunday outing in his return to Portland in which Bard gave up two runs on two hits and a walk while throwing nine of 18 pitches for strikes.