ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Shane Victorino played only 10 games in spring training, devoting his time instead to rehabilitation and conditioning work designed to keep him healthy once the season started.
Yet he strained his right hamstring March 29 and missed the first 22 games of the season while on the disabled list. The same injury occurred again in the ninth inning Friday night and Victorino returned to the disabled list Saturday.
Victorino declined comment before and after the Red Sox’ loss, leaving it to manager John Farrell to explain.
“We think through the exam so far it’s not as severe as the injury in spring training. But in combination with the hamstring and overall physical ailments that he’s battling right now, the two-week break is needed,” Farrell said before the Sox lost to the Rays, 6-5, in 15 innings.
Last season, Victorino was on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain from May 21 until June 7. In all, the right fielder missed 40 games last season. This season, he was hitting .242 with only seven extra-base hits in 91 at-bats.
The Red Sox recalled Daniel Nava from Triple A Pawtucket to replace Victorino.
There is a chance first baseman Mike Napoli could join Victorino on the DL. He did not play Saturday, missing his third game in four days, and is not expected to play Sunday.
Napoli is dealing with an assortment of issues, starting with pain in his left ring finger, which was dislocated on April 15 against the White Sox. Napoli has hit .238 since the injury with two home runs.
Napoli also has a sore left hamstring and right calf and has been dehydrated because of an illness.
“Nap is going to be day to day. I can’t say this is going to be a one-day thing. It might be more days needed than that,” Farrell said. “We’re hopeful to avoid a down time with the DL as well with him.”
Napoli has been re-taping his injured finger several times a game depending whether he is in the field or at the plate. The injury clearly has affected his swing.
“It’s impacted it. To what extent that’s hard to say. You look at the power numbers since the injury in Chicago and it’s pretty clear,” Farrell said. “He’s one to not make excuses.”
David Ortiz didn’t start Saturday because of soreness in his lower legs, but pinch hit and grounded out in the 10th.
Xander Bogaerts left the game in the 11th inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. He said the muscle loosened up with treatment and he hopes to play Sunday.
The Red Sox weakened their bullpen in April when righthander Brandon Workman was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket, but it was with the long-term goal of allowing the 25-year-old to get work as a starter.
It wasn’t always smooth. Workman was 3-1, but had a 5.12 earned run average in seven starts for Pawtucket and encountered some bumps while building his arm strength.
But he was the choice to start Sunday against the Rays.
“I’m excited to be back up here and being in a starting role,” Workman said. “That’s what I was working toward . . . Any time you get called up, it’s an opportunity.”
Workman last pitched May 17, going 6⅔ innings and giving up three runs against Scranton.
“He’s using all four pitches for strikes. He’s commanding the ball a little bit better than some guys that were in consideration as well,” Farrell said.
Workman was 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts for the Red Sox last season. He faced the Rays on July 22 and allowed two runs over six innings in a 3-0 loss. Counting the Division Series, Workman faced the Rays three times last season and allowed four earned runs over 8⅔ innings.
Nava makes it back
Nava and Workman had 4 a.m. wake-up calls in Syracuse, N.Y., and flew into Tampa before the game. Nava, who was optioned to Triple A on April 23, was happy to make the trip.
Nava was 10 of 67 (.149) and had a .240 on-base percentage over 17 games when the Red Sox sent him down. Nava, 31, had been a key member of the 2013 team, hitting .303 with an .831 OPS and driving in 66 runs.
“I’m obviously thrilled to be back,” said Nava, who came on in the 10th to play right field and went 0 for 2. “I was feeling good [at the plate]. I was in a slump up here, but I went down there and worked and focused on some things to get back to where I felt more comfortable.”
Nava changed his batting stance under the direction of Pawtucket hitting coach Dave Joppie. He moved his feet closer together and that enabled him to stand taller and get better contact. He hit .253 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 24 games with the PawSox.
“There was some increased confidence, which was needed,” Farrell said. “He’s going to get [at-bats] against righthanders. He’ll find himself in this lineup. When he’s swinging the bat against righthanders, as he’s capable, it’s one of the better lefthanded approaches in the game.”
Nava said his experience of making the majors after being a college walk-on and playing independent league ball helped him deal with the demotion.
“One day at a time, that’s how I’m taking it,” he said. “Being sent down is a good wake-up call that there’s a lot worse things you could be doing than playing baseball. I’m grateful I still have a job playing baseball.”
Jake Peavy went six innings against the Rays, allowing five runs on eight hits. The first inning was his 2,000th in the majors. Peavy is the 13th active pitcher to hit that plateau and the 427th overall . . . The Sox are 5-12 in one-run games . . . The nine-game losing streak is the longest for a defending World Series champion since the 2007 Cardinals lost nine straight . . . The five-run lead was the largest ever lost by the Red Sox against the Rays . . . Stephen Drew, who played five innings for Single A Greenville on Friday, was off Saturday and is scheduled to play Sunday . . . Wil Myers, who was in a 2-for-26 slump, wasn’t in the Tampa Bay lineup, but pinch hit in the eighth and walked . . . Will Middlebrooks is staying in Boston during this road trip. He had X-rays on his fractured right index finger Friday and it was determined he will not need a pin inserted. The hope is he could start baseball activities by the end of the week . . . Ken Griffey Jr. was on hand, working with MLB Productions and conducted an interview with Ortiz.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.