SEATTLE — The Red Sox were planning to activate Shane Victorino off the disabled list and start him in right field against the Yankees Friday night in the Bronx. But those plans have been shelved.
Victorino has a strained lower back and it may be some time before he returns.
“He’s got some discomfort in the lower back area that kept him down for a couple of days. So that delayed his return to us. We don’t have a time frame for that,” manager John Farrell said before the Red Sox played the Mariners Wednesday night.
Victorino, who will be examined in Boston Thursday, has been on the disabled list since May 24 with a right hamstring strain. That was the same injury that forced him to miss 22 games at the start of the season.
In 21 games, Victorino has hit .242 with a .627 OPS.
Victorino, 33, played only 10 games in spring training because of injuries and was on the disabled list in 2013 with a left hamstring strain.
Victorino started his latest rehab assignment June 14 but appeared in only five games, going 0 for 13, before being shut down. He did not get through nine innings in any of those games.
“Once the volume [of playing] started to ramp up a little bit he felt more stiff and more restriction on the lower back. We’ve got to address that,” Farrell said.
Could the Sox shut Victorino down for an extended period as a result of the injuries?
“We’re well aware of the history here in a year-plus and all that he’s encountered,” Farrell said. “We’re going to go by the complete guidance of the medical staff at this point.”
Victorino was one of the team’s most valuable players last season. He hit .294 with an .801 OPS, stole 21 bases and won a Gold Glove. He had 12 RBIs in 14 postseason games.
“He would be a positive addition, there’s no question about it,” Farrell said. “Until we get him back we’re going to miss him.”
Clay Buchholz was activated off the disabled list to start against the Mariners. Lefthanded reliever Chris Capuano was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
“Extremely tough,” Farrell said. “When you consider his veteran presence, as talented as he is, the success he had early on with us and all that he represents about the game. Just a quality individual . . . He’s a true pro. Unfortunately we had to create the spot.”
The 35-year-old Capuano was signed Feb. 20 to a one-year, $2.25 million. The Springfield native was a bargain early in the season, as he did not allow an earned run over his first 12 appearances.
But in the 16 appearances that followed, Capuano gave up 16 earned runs on 26 hits and 12 walks over 16⅔ innings.
Capuano pitched 2⅓ innings on Monday and allowed five runs while throwing 52 pitches.
Farrell said the Red Sox considered other avenues including optioning one of their young players back to the minors, placing a player on the disabled list or making a trade. But ultimately Capuano was dropped.
The Sox now have 10 days to trade, release, or pass Capuano through waivers. He was not available for comment.
More moves soon
The Sox are still carrying 13 pitchers, one over their usual allotment, and Farrell said the team was “intent” on adding a position player.
“We’ll look to do that as soon as possible, he said.
Farrell said the preference was to add a righthanded hitter. With two spots open on the 40-man roster, the Sox could easily add any player from the minors.
Healthy righthanded hitters at Triple A Pawtucket include outfielder Alex Hassan, who has swung the bat well in recent games, and catcher Christian Vazquez. Or the Red Sox could make a bolder move and promote 21-year-old Mookie Betts. He was hitting .321 with an .859 OPS through 20 games at Pawtucket.
The Red Sox, for now, are carrying seven starting pitchers. Felix Doubront remains tentatively scheduled to start against the Cubs next week but could return to the bullpen in Capuano’s place. The Sox also have righthander Rubby De La Rosa, who is 2-2 with a 2.51 ERA in five starts.
“Rubby’s also factoring in this,” Farrell said. “We know we have to make a move. And yet we’re not at that point yet.”
Brandon Workman, Jon Lester, and John Lackey will start against the Yankees. The rotation is tentative beyond that.
Jake Peavy’s hold on a rotation spot may be slippery. The veteran righthander is 1-6 with a 4.93 earned run average and hasn’t won a game since April 25. He has a 5.87 ERA in his last five starts.
“As of right now, yes,” Farrell said when asked if Peavy would make his next star.
First baseman Mike Napoli was out of the lineup after fouling a ball off his left foot on Tuesday. Napoli was 8 of his previous 18 with one double and two home runs . . . Will Middlebrooks, who is on a rehabilitation assignment with Pawtucket, missed his third consecutive game because of swelling in his fracture right index finger. That has kept him from being able to throw.