Coming out of the All-Star break, Red Sox manager John Farrell was looking at the calendar thinking of when Shane Victorino could return to the lineup.
He wanted to see Victorino play back-to-back rehab games in the minors, preferably nine innings in each.
He wanted to see how Victorino’s body responded to diving, sliding, and running the bases after spending nearly two months on the disabled list with hamstring and back issues.
The sooner Victorino got back in the lineup, the better, Farrell figured, but he wanted to go through certain steps.
That didn’t stop Victorino from lobbying.
“He always finds a way to say his piece,” Farrell said on Friday prior to the Sox’ series opener against the Royals at Fenway Park.
After going 2 for 4 with Pawtucket on Thursday night, Victorino was back in the PawSox lineup on Friday. The 33-year-old right fielder could possibly be activated from the DL as soon as Saturday, Farrell said.
“He came out of [Thursday] night in good shape physically,” Farrell said. “He ran the bases aggressively. He went first to third a couple different times. Slid headfirst. Couple of base hits. Made three plays, I believe, in right field, so [Thursday] was a very good night for him and we anticipate him getting through [Friday] in a similar fashion physically and there’s a scenario that has him active for us [on Saturday].”
Victorino landed on the DL on May 24 with a right hamstring strain, the same injury that sidelined him for 22 games at the start of the year. He started his rehab assignment on June 14, five games in he was set back by a lower back strain.
A year ago, Victorino hit .294 with an .801 OPS and 21 stolen bases, batting second behind Jacoby Ellsbury. In 21 games this season, Victorino is hitting .242 with a .627 OPS and two steals.
“We’ve missed his energy, we’ve missed his talents,” Farrell said. “His in-game decisions, his instincts on the base paths, we’ve missed a very good player for the majority of the year.
“That being said, we’re very much looking forward to him getting back. We recognize that there have been a couple of start-and-stops along the way, so what kind of production he gives us immediately remains to be seen.”Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.