The hamstring injury that crept up on Shane Victorino just before the season opener in Baltimore a week ago was one thing.
But the flu that hit him the next few days was its own monster.
“That first three or four days was awful,” said the Red Sox right fielder. “There wasn’t much other than the energy to watch the game. That’s all I had.
“I don’t want anybody to have the flu I had.”
Victorino went on the 15-day disabled list March 31 (retroactive to March 30) with a right hamstring strain, but because of the flu, he had hardly been able to even be around the team until Wednesday, aside from being present for the ring ceremony at the home opener.
Along with Will Middlebrooks, who landed on the disabled list Sunday with a strained calf, Victorino began what manager John Farrell described as “pre-baseball activity” before Wednesday’s game — jogging, agility drills, and throwing from 120 feet.
Both of them will travel with the team to New York for the four-game series against the Yankees that starts Thursday night.
“Just glad to be out of bed,” Victorino said. “It was a tough week. It was frustrating to be away from the guys, not being around, but I think it was a matter of not getting everybody else sick. That was very important from the doctor’s standpoint, to stay away from the team.”
Victorino suffered the injury while running the bases in the final spring training game. After missing 40 games a year ago with a handful of nagging injuries and undergoing thumb surgery in December, Victorino said he felt healthy coming into the spring.
“Honestly, we did everything we could possibly do,” Victorino said. “That was just one of those freak things. Just randomly came out of nowhere.”
The flu kept him out of commission for several days, but the down time allowed him to let the hamstring heal.
“We’re going to continue to work every day,” Victorino said. “Strengthening the surrounding areas, my back, my core, my legs and hopefully these things, knock on wood, we got it all out of the way and I can go on the season and when I get back out there just ride out into the sunset and be healthy the rest of the season.”
Sending Brandon Workman down to Triple A Pawtucket after watching him throw four solid innings of one-run ball in relief Tuesday was admittedly difficult for Farrell.
But what made it easier was that Workman understood the situation. With Craig Breslow coming off the disabled list, Workman could see the writing on the wall regardless of how he was throwing the ball.
“Not an easy message to deliver, but to Brandon’s credit, he’s aware,” Farrell said. “He sees things around him that are unfolding that he has no control over. But this is someone that’s pitched very well, whether it was last year in either role or the three appearances he’s made this year.
“So we fully expect him to be back at some point and will contribute big innings for us.”
Workman will go back to a starter’s role with the PawSox and Farrell said he’ll likely take the mound Monday when they travel to face Rochester.
Farrell wanted to be cautious about bouncing the 25-year-old righthander between starting and relieving.
“That’s where we’ve got to be careful of changing the role again,” Farrell said. “If we could script it, he would remain as a starter and if the need were to arise, he’d be back here pitching for us in that role.”
Breslow will likely be eased back, Farrell said. But considering the lefthanded hitters the Sox will face against the Yankees, Farrell saw a need for a strike-throwing lefty. In 33 career appearances against the Yankees, Breslow has a 3.55 ERA.
Three days on the disabled list and Middlebrooks is already going stir crazy. So he took ground balls from his knees before the Red Sox’ 4-2 win Wednesday just to shake off some of the cabin fever.
“I just couldn’t stay inside any longer,” Middlebrooks said. “I just wanted to get outside, get some fresh air, move around a little bit. I’m feeling good. I’m feeling better. Hopefully when this two weeks is up, I’ll be good to go.”
Middlebrooks also threw from 120 feet, and Farrell said he should begin baseball activities in the coming days.
Farrell said he’s considered the possibility of a Grady Sizemore-Victorino-Jackie Bradley Jr. outfield. “How we get to that point remains to be seen with roster adjustments,” he said. With Bradley hitting .400 and Sizemore hitting .364, there are obvious reasons for Farrell to want those bats in the lineup once Victorino returns. But Sizemore also has been sound in center field and Bradley has saved a handful of runs in right. “The one thing that continues to bear out is the outfield defense and placing a premium on that,” he said . . . The Sox came into Wednesday’s game second in the American League with 82 hits, but ninth in runs with 31. Only two teams had left more runners on base than the Sox’s 62 — the Rays and the Yankees, who had stranded 68.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com.