Missing a vital piece of their lineup since the start of the season, the Boston Red Sox could be seeing Shane Victorino return within the next week. The outfielder, sidelined since late in Spring Training with a strained hamstring and then the flu, is slated to begin a rehabilitation assignment on Saturday with the team’s Triple-A affiliate. There’s a chance that he could be activated in time for the start of the team’s series at home against the New York Yankees that begins on Thursday.
Victorino will reportedly report to Pawtucket at the end of the week. He’s schedule to play in games Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham. Pawtucket is scheduled to play a doubleheader on Saturday, but it’s unclear if Victorino will play in both games. The team is off on Sunday for Easter.
Boston will have a difficult decision on their hands once Victorino is ready to return. Jackie Bradley Jr. took his place on the active roster, likely viewed as a temporary measure with the young prospect heading back to Pawtucket as soon as Victorino made his way back into the lineup. Bradley has performed above expectations, however, both at the plate (.244/.354/.317 in 48 PA) and in the field where he’s assumed the starting duties in center field in recent days. Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes are almost assuredly safe, leaving a likely roster decision to come down to Daniel Nava or Mike Carp.
Nava has certainly received more playing time to date than Carp, appearing in 13 of the team’s 15 games entering play Thursday. He’s seen time at each of the corner outfield positions and at first base, but has hit just .137/.241/.275 through 58 PA. He does have an option remaining, meaning the team can send him down to Pawtucket without fear of losing him to waivers. Carp, however, is out of options and would need to be exposed to waivers before the team could make a move. He’s appeared in just 9 games on the season, batting .214/.267/.286 in just 15 PA. Carp was the subject of multiple trade rumors during Spring Training but proved to be a pivotal option off the bench for the team last season. It would seem highly unlikely that he’d pass through waivers unclaimed.
While Boston’s eventual roster decision may not be an easy one, the team will certainly be glad to have another member of their starting lineup back in the mix. Victorino batted a career best .294/.351/.451 this past season after joining the Red Sox as a free agent the prior winter. His 15 HR, 21 SB, and the Gold Glove Award that he’d win were also welcomed additions to the eventual World Series Champions.