Shane Victorino was at Fenway Park early Thursday afternoon before the start of the Red Sox’ homestand finale against the White Sox. But he left to head to Lowell to begin his rehab assignment with the short-season Spinners. Manager John Farrell said the plan is for Victorino to play two games with Lowell and then two games with Triple-A Pawtucket before the All-Star break.
Victorino has been limited to just 21 games this season by back and right hamstring ailments. He had his last rehab assignment cut short because of lower back soreness, for which he received an injection. He last appeared in a game on June 24, with Pawtucket.
• Farrell said catchers David Ross and Christian Vazquez, who made his major league debut on Wednesday, would be on an every-other day rotation until the All-Star Break. Ross is catching for Lester today, and would be behind the plate on Saturday for Jake Peavy, with Vazquez catching John Lackey in the series opener Friday at Houston, and Clay Buchholz on Saturday.
Ross will continue to catch Lester, as he has for all but three of the left-hander’s 19 starts this season – Opening Day, April 22, and May 22, when A.J. Pierzynski was behind the plate.
• Farrell said he has not yet set his rotation after the All-Star break. He does not expect Lester — or any of the 13 pitchers on his American League team — to pitch more than one inning in the All-Star Game.
• Will Middlebrooks, on the disabled list since May 17 with a fractured right index finger, continues on his rehab assignment with Pawtucket. He went 1-for-3 playing seven innings at third base on Wednesday. After being shut down because of swelling in the middle knuckle of his injured finger, Middlebrooks has hit safely in six of seven games since resuming his rehab on July 1, going 6-for-22, hitting .273, with a double, triple, home run, three runs scored, three RBI, and two walks.
The Sox had planned for Middlebrooks to get some time in the outfield while with the PawSox. For the time being, though, the focus is for him to remain at third base, Farrell said.
• According to fangraphs, Jackie Bradley leads AL center fielders with a UZR of 11.7 and 10 defensive runs saved. His 10 outfield assists are tied with Michael Brantley’s and Yoenis Cespedes’ for the major league lead, and four more than that of the next center fielder.