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red sox notebook

Will Middlebrooks may be headed to DL

Will Middlebrooks strained his right calf doing sprints in the outfield before Saturday’s game against the Brewers.

David Butler II/USA Today Sports/file

Will Middlebrooks strained his right calf doing sprints in the outfield before Saturday’s game against the Brewers.

The Red Sox are dealing with significant injury issues only five games into the season.

Shane Victorino is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, and Will Middlebrooks could soon join him there after straining his right calf doing sprints in the outfield before Saturday night’s game against Milwaukee.

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Middlebrooks will get an MRI on Sunday. The only third baseman on the roster is Jonathan Herrera, who has limited experience at the position. The Sox, who are carrying five outfielders, have Herrera as their only infield backup.

Brandon Snyder and 22-year-old Garin Cecchini are the third basemen at Triple A Pawtucket. Neither player is on the 40-man roster.

David Ortiz was out of the Red Sox lineup on Saturday but did pinch hit in the ninth inning of the 7-6, 11-inning loss. The absence was not because of injury, according to manager John Farrell.

“This was a planned down day for him,” Farrell said.

Ortiz strained his right calf March 24 and has been running cautiously since. He played in only one of the final five games of spring as a result of the injury.

“It’s getting better. This was just a day off,” Ortiz said. “I’m OK.”

Mike Carp was in the lineup to play first base but was replaced after batting practice because of lower back tightness. He came in the game to play first base in the 10th inning and played two innings.

Victorino is still dealing with a case of the flu and isn’t being allowed around the team.

“We’ll likely bring him in here during game time to continue to get treatment [on the hamstring] but not be around the majority of the players for the flu that he’s dealing with,” Farrell said. “I don’t have an update on how long his separation from the team will be.”

Keeping the faith

A day after one of the worst outings of his career, righthander reliever Edward Mujica was doing his best to stay upbeat.

Mujica started the ninth inning of a 2-2 game on Friday and gave up four runs on four hits. He threw 15 pitches and the Brewers swung at 12 of them.

“That team knows me from the last few years and they know I’m going to throw strikes,” said Mujica, who spent the last two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and faced the Brewers 14 times. “Everybody was ready to go and they swung at everything. It was part of the game. They got me that time. Today is a different day.”

Mujica issued only five walks over 64 innings last season.

Breslow eyes return

Lefthanded reliever Craig Breslow made back-to-back appearances for Triple A Pawtucket on Thursday and Friday and believes he is ready to rejoin the team.

“I think it’s a baseball decision. I feel fine physically,” said Breslow, who is out with a shoulder strain. “My pitches are where they need to be.”

Farrell said Breslow was scheduled to be off Saturday and Sunday. There remains a chance he could pitch in the minors again.

Sizemore leads off

Grady Sizemore hit leadoff for the first time since Sept. 8, 2011.

Farrell has resisted using Sizemore on top of the order, saying he wanted to minimize the physical toll on his center fielder after he missed two consecutive seasons dealing with injuries. But that lasted five games.

“Just the way he’s responding to games played, the aggressiveness in which he’s running the bases, the frequency he’s getting on base, all of the above puts him in the spot,” Farrell said before the game.

Sizemore was 0 for 4 with a walk and a run scored on Saturday night.

A big whiff

Red Sox pitchers struck out 18, the most in a game since 20 in a 13-inning game at Philadelphia on June 12, 2009. It was the most strikeouts in a home game since Roger Clemens struck out 20 Mariners on April 29, 1986 . . . The 15 strikeouts by Sox relievers were a single-game team record . . . Right fielder Ryan Braun was out of the Milwaukee lineup. He is 1 for 16 this season and is dealing with a nerve injury in his right thumb that could require surgery . . . Jackie Bradley Jr. started in right field for the first time in his career. Farrell has used four outfield combinations in five games . . . The Sox lost their first two home games for the first time since 1997.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.
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