Outfielder Shane Victorino was activated Saturday between games of the Red Sox’ doubleheader with the Angels. Victorino was placed on the disabled list May 24 (retroactive to May 21) with a left hamstring strain. Although his rain-shortened rehab assignment at Triple A Pawtucket lasted just one game, manager John Farrell didn’t hesitate to plug Victorino in at center field and hit him in the leadoff spot in place of Jacoby Ellsbury in the nightcap. Did he need more time? Well, he singled on the second pitch he saw in the Sox’ 7-2 victory.
“[Victorino] was challenged right out of the get go,” said Farrell. “I think he’d been activated about an hour and he goes first to home on the double by [Jonny] Gomes and he hit a soft spot coming around third base and it kind of grabbed him a little bit.
“[It was] a little bit of a scary moment given how soon he’s been back to us and you see him laying at home plate, it wasn’t a good feeling right then, but he didn’t suffer any kind of tightness or stiffness throughout the night.”
With the Angels sending lefty C.J. Wilson to the mound, Farrell saw it as an opportunity to rest Ellsbury, who just returned to the lineup Thursday after missing five games with a tight groin.“We’re still balancing Jacoby’s availability not only day to day, but with two games in one day,” Farrell said. After going 2 for 4 with a home run Thursday, rain postponed Pawtucket’s game Friday against Charlotte. Leading up to the rehab stint, Victorino had been working out with team trainers, testing the hamstring to see if it was playable.
“It’s definitely tricky, obviously only playing seven innings being two weeks off,” said Victorino. “But John has faith in me and I have faith in myself that I can go out there and do it.
“I felt a little bit here and there but for the most part it felt pretty good. I lasted nine and we’ll go from there.
After hitting .238 (5 for 21) in his second stint in the big leagues, Jackie Bradley was optioned to Pawtucket to make room for Victorino.
With two doubles, a home run, three RBIs, and four runs scored, Bradley said he felt more comfortable than he did at the start of the season, when an 0-for-21 slump led to an early demotion. Part of the reason was understanding the way major league pitchers were starting to pitch to him.
“It’s clear that he learned from his experience the first time where pitchers were attacking him in as the book on him started to circulate through the league,” Farrell said. “I think he handled it well, going down to be more conscious of the strike zone in, and days when he got his starts, he played with confidence.’’
Bradley was hitting .354 in Pawtucket .
“You focus on that so much and you get pull happy and you get focused on what they’re trying to do to you mainly instead of working to your strengths and using them to your advantage,” Bradley said. “Just because they exploit some things doesn’t mean you get away from your strengths and you do something different than what you normally do that has caused you to have success.”
Working way back
Will Middlebrooks will continue his rehab stint in Pawtucket with the hopes that he will work himself into a rhythm at the plate. He had fallen into a 7-for-46 slump before going on the disabled list May 24. He went 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday and is 4 for 12 in four games with two homers, and six RBIs. “[He’s] doing a very good job and as we outlined upon his rehab beginning, we want to be sure that he gets some momentum going and he’s doing a good job of getting that started,” Farrell said . . . Seeing his son, Luke, get selected in the sixth round by the Royals was a proud moment for Farrell. Luke had benign tumors removed from his jaw in 2009 and 2011 and recovered to become a second-team all-Big Ten pitcher for Northwestern.
Major League Baseball finished its annual draft, with the Red Sox selecting 18 pitchers in its 40 rounds of picks. Of local note was their selection of third baseman Nick Zammarelli out of Lincoln (R.I.) High in the 28th round. As usual, there were many of draftees with ties to major leaguers. In the 13th round, the Sox took high school righthander Jordan Sheffield (nephew of Gary), lefthander Gabe Speier (newphew of Chris) was selected in the 19th, and in the last round, they took high school catcher Ryan Lidge, cousin of former closer Brad. Vanderbilt right fielder Mike Yastrzemski — grandson of Carl — was selected by the Orioles in the 14th round, and Kacy Clemens — the third of Roger’s four sons — was picked by the Astros in the 35th round, though he appears headed to the University of Texas, like his father.Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.