TORONTO — The Red Sox have set an informal deadline of Thursday to decide whether right fielder Shane Victorino will go on the disabled list with a strained lower back. Based on his improvement the last two days, that seems less likely.
Victorino took batting practice in the Rogers Centre cage for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. He is now hopeful of returning to the lineup in Texas on Friday.
The final test would be taking batting practice on the field on Thursday. If Victorino feels good then, he will likely avoid the disabled list.
“I’ve progressed every day,” Victorino said. “Tomorrow we’re going to add to the workload. My goal is if everything goes accordingly, I’d like to play the first game in Texas. That’s obviously how my body reacts and how my body feels. Every day it’s progressed in a positive direction. No setbacks when I get up in the morning.”
The Sox are being cautious with Victorino. He was injured April 20 and came out of the game. Victorino then missed two games before returning April 22. He started three games and was 2 for 11 before reinjuring his back. Victorino has not played since. If he were to come back for a day or two and get injured again, the Sox would lose the ability to backdate his stint on the disabled list.
“There hasn’t been a setback any day. Obviously that’s what we need to focus on,” Victorino said. “I don’t want to make this a five-month thing . . . My goal is not to go on the DL. My goal is to be back.”
Victorino feels comfortable throwing and hitting. Bending over is what bothers him.
“There’s certain movements, bending too suddenly to pick up a ball is where I feel it,” he said.
Victorino is hitting .292 with a .358 on-base percentage. He also has been playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
“The frustrating thing for me is never having a back problem and having this all of a sudden occur,” Victorino said. “Things are going good, the team is going well. I tip my hat to the guys. They’re doing a great job. It’s been fun to watch.”
Even if Victorino wants to play on Thursday, manager John Farrell indicated that was unlikely on Toronto’s hard AstroTurf field. “Optimistically we’re looking at Friday at Texas,” Farrell said.
Carp’s big chance
The Mariners designated Mike Carp for assignment just a few days before he was going to report for spring training.
“I was wondering what my future was,” the 26-year-old said. “It was a stressful time.”
The Red Sox obtained Carp Feb. 20 for a player to be named or cash. He was not particularly impressive in spring training but made the team. Then he had three at-bats in the first 13 games of the season.
“I was just happy to be on this team,” Carp said. “I was excited when I got traded to the Red Sox.”
Carp has since become a valuable contributor. He is 12 of 22 with nine extra-base hits and seven RBIs in the next 10 games he played in. Carp pinch hit for David Ortiz in the ninth and hit a long homer to right Wednesday night.
With Victorino out, the Sox have been using Daniel Nava in right field and a combination of Carp and Jonny Gomes in left.
“I’ve tried to have the same routine every day whether I’m in the lineup or not,” Carp said. “I do the same thing pretty much every day. It has helped me be ready.”
Carp homered Tuesday night off righthander Brandon Morrow and was then pinch hit for when the Jays brought lefthander Aaron Loup in. Gomes came off the bench and hit a home run.
“It shows how strong our bench is,” Carp said. “I hit a home run and get taken out in the middle of the game and Jonny homers. We all have a purpose. It’s fun to be a part of it.”
Blue Jays broadcaster Jack Morris, who won 254 games from 1977-94, has enjoyed watching Farrell have success managing the Red Sox. He believes more former pitchers and pitching coaches should get a chance to manage.
“There aren’t many who get to manage,” Morris said. “It always seems to be a former catcher. To me, pitching is such an important part of the game.”
Farrell and Bud Black are the only managers who were once pitching coaches.
“It’s about managing personalities more than anything else,” Morris said. “If you have a good coaching staff, it doesn’t matter what position you played. Guys who couldn’t hit a lick are managers. Why can’t a pitcher manage?”
Morris then laughed.
“There’s not much money in it,” he said. “Maybe that’s why.”
It was 65 degrees in Toronto at first pitch with no chance of rain. But the roof of the Rogers Centre was closed . . . Lefthander Franklin Morales has started a long-toss program and could throw off a mound this weekend. He is on the disabled list with a back injury and was shut down for five days because of a strained pectoral muscle on his left side . . . Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow, who has made three rehab appearances, is scheduled to pitch for Triple A Pawtucket Thursday.