Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino starts a rehab assignment tomorrow with Triple A Pawtucket. It’s expected to last three or four games with Victorono building up his innings, first going five, then DH’ing and then playing right field.
“Spoke to Shane, and upon his return, we’ll manage how many consecutive games he plays a little more religiously than previously,” manager John Farrell said.
Farrell said Victorino, who placed on the 15-day disabled list May 24 (retroactive to May 21) with a left hamstring strain, wanted to go out today, but the team held him back.
In other news:
• Farrell said that center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was still unavailable.
“He went out and did some more field activities with running. We’ve got to get him to the point of being 80 percent or better intensity level before we can consider putting him back in the lineup,” the manager said. “As we did with Shane, we look at that eighth day of a 15-day [period] as kind of a threshold to make a decisions roster-wise. Right now we’re still not thinking about putting him on the DL, but if this continues obviously we got to get to that point.”
The Red Sox originally thought Ellsbury would be back for the New York series. This seems more severe than anticipated.
“Yeah, I agree with what you said. We were hopeful that it would be when we came back off the road. But yet in the interest of him and his health, until he’s ready to go, we can’t push it,” Farrell said.
“He’s not at 80 percent,” Farrell said when asked where he was at. I can’t give you an exact number but he’s not quite there yet.”
• There was a lot of focus on Will Middlebrooks, who went 1 for 3 for Pawtucket on Tuesday at the start of his rehab assignment.
“As sat down and talked with Will before the rehab started, that this was not only a chance to make sure that the health issue is 1, behind him, which everything points to that being the case, 2, he’ll get his timing back, but also, let’s use this as an opportunity to get a little momentum going before he comes back,” Farrell said.
“We’re hopeful that that is sooner rather than later. Saturday’s still the day in which he’s eligible to be first activated. It could very well be Saturday. It could be shortly thereafter. I think the most important this is our need for right-handed bats in this lineup to balance out our left side of the plate. He’s a vital part of that, and want to be sure he’s got some momentum coming back to us with.”
Farrell said Middlebrooks’ return will be based on whether he has some offensive momentum.
“This isn’t going to be based on batting average,” Farrell said. “I think it’s more important that as he was showing more consistency before the injury the ability to drive the ball into right-center field. We kind of, as we talked many times over, that’s when he’s at his best. And just to take his normal, natural approach and repeat it. That’s what we’re looking for.”
Farrell said Middlebrooks was understanding. But, “like any player, I think they’re anxious to get back here. And the one thing I want to be careful of is that we just don’t pin ourselves to a calendar date or X number of at-bats and say ‘OK, I’m ready.’ He tell us when he’s ready by his actions.”