OAKLAND, Calif. — Red Sox manager John Farrell was asked Saturday morning if he had any updates on the progress of Andres Torres, the veteran outfielder who was signed to a minor league contract this month.
“Don’t have a real update on that yet,” Farrell said. “I know Mookie Betts is swinging the bat well.”
With that off-the-cuff comment, Farrell started the countdown for when the 21-year-old Betts will join the Red Sox. It could be far more sooner than later.
Through Friday, Betts was hitting .324 with an .888 OPS in 17 games for Triple A Pawtucket. He had six extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. On the season, Betts is hitting .348 with a .969 OPS. He has 21 doubles, 4 triples, 8 home runs, and 26 stolen bases in 31 attempts.
“Nice young fella,” Farrell said. “I’m not suggesting anything other than we recognize and watch what he’s doing daily.”
Betts is a second baseman, but he has played 24 games in center field this season, 12 in Pawtucket.
“Center field looks like, all reports, the reads and the routes are good,” Farrell said. “We’re not ready to anoint him a regular center fielder or regular outfielder. But his athleticism certainly plays there.”
Farrell did not offer a guess when Betts would join the Red Sox other to say that any Triple A player is on the radar.
“He continues to swing the bat with some consistency,” Farrell said. “Time frame? No indication to it. He’s doing everything he can to put himself on the right track.”
With center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. struggling offensively, Betts could move into the lineup in that spot. Farrell said Brock Holt has given the Red Sox a lift since he was called up.
Bradley is hitting .207 with a .294 on-base percentage.
As for Torres, he has started playing for Single A Lowell, going 2 for 10 in his first three games. He is expected to join Pawtucket before too long, perhaps as a replacement for Betts.
Shane Victorino did not play again for Pawtucket, as his rehabilitation assignment remains stalled. Victorino has not played in a game since Tuesday because of what Farrell has said is “stiffness.”
Victorino was sent back to Boston for treatment and has not been with Pawtucket on its road trip for several days. He will not play Sunday but could take batting practice.
“That’s where we are right now,” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t categorize it as a setback. We have to cautiously get him back before we overload him.”
Farrell suggested a few days ago that Victorino could be activated off the disabled list while the team was on the West Coast.
“Tougher in terms of the West Coast timetable, but not ruling it out,” the manager said.
Victorino is 0 for 6 in three games for Pawtucket. He has played only 21 games for the Red Sox because of hamstring strains.
Bogaerts takes break
Xander Bogaerts sat out Saturday’s 2-1, 10-inning loss to Oakland as Jonathan Herrera started at third base. Bogaerts is 11 of 65 (.169) with six RBIs in 17 games since the Red Sox moved him to third base to accommodate the arrival of Stephen Drew.
In the last 12 games, Bogaerts is 4 for 43. His batting average has dropped from .299 to .265. With Drew 6 for 38 (.158), the Red Sox have received little from that side of the infield in recent weeks.
Farrell met with Bogaerts before the game and came away assured the move to third base is not a cause of his slump.
“He’s perfectly able to separate the field from the batter’s box. He’s just going through a rough patch at this moment, both at the plate and in the field,” Farrell said.
“He’s made a couple of throws at third that have gotten away from him. And I don’t believe there’s any residual effect from moving positions. I don’t believe Xander lets those things enter into his mind-set.”
Hop to it
Burke Badenhop pitched two scoreless innings during Friday night’s 4-3 loss. The righthander has not allowed an earned run in his last 27 appearances, a span of 31⅓ innings.
The Red Sox, however, are 9-18 in those games.
“He’s become invaluable, to be honest,” said Farrell. “His willingness to attack the strike zone, he knows he’s got to pitch to contact. More than anything he knows who he is as a pitcher. That is refreshing in its own way.
“He knows where his strengths are, he knows what he’s trying to get accomplished. It has led to the consistency he’s shown.”
Badenhop was acquired from Milwaukee because of his propensity to induce ground balls and hold down righthanded hitters. But Friday was the 14th time he has pitched more than one inning.
Righthander Brandon Workman has served four games of his six-game suspension. Under major league rules, he can work out with the team before the game but is not allowed in the dugout or the clubhouse once the first pitch is thrown.
Workman could watch from the stands or the press box but he has been going back to the team hotel in San Francisco then seeking out a sports bar.
“I just sit there and watch,” Workman said. “I miss being at the park.”
So far, Workman said, no Red Sox fans have recognized him as he watches from the bar.
NESN’s Dennis Eckersley threw out the first pitch and received a big hand from the crowd. Eckersley was with the Athletics from 1987-95 and has his No. 43 retired . . . The Sox have lost 15 of their last 20 games against the Athletics and 16 of the last 19 at Oakland . . . A.J. Pierzynski was 0 for 4, seeing a total of seven pitches, and is 2 of his last 23 . . . Will Middlebrooks was 0 for 2 with a walk and played five innings at third base as his rehab stint continued with Pawtucket . . . The Red Sox signed righthander Karsten Whitson, their 11th-round pick in the draft. Whitson was the ninth overall pick of the Padres in 2010 before an injury-plagued career at the University of Florida. But the 22-year-old still has a fastball that hits 96 miles per hour.