PHILADELPHIA — Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler is expected to be activated off the disabled list on Friday after taking live swings prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies.
Kinsler stepped into the batter’s box to face Eduardo Rodriguez during the lefthander’s four-inning simulated game. Kinsler took four at-bats, mostly tracking pitches, then fielded ground balls at second and ran the bases.
“Ian was good,” said manager Alex Cora. “He got a few at-bats against Eduardo, took a few ground balls, so I think the plan is to activate him on Friday. He doesn’t need to go and get at-bats. Actually, he faced a pretty tough pitcher today in Eduardo.”
The plan will be for Kinsler to play Friday and Saturday against the Rays at Fenway Park, then sit on Sunday.
“We’ve got four games [next week] against Cleveland, so we’ll see,” Cora said. “We don’t want to all of a sudden go out there, play 10, 12 games in a row. So I think in the beginning he’ll play two out of three and then we’ll go from there.”
The Sox traded for Kinsler on July 30 and he played just three games before going on the disabled list Aug. 4 with a strained left hamstring.
“It wasn’t ideal, for sure,” Kinsler said. “The team is playing really well.”
The injury has forced Kinsler to miss 11 games, including Wednesday’s. He has played 94 games overall this season. Over the previous four years, he hasn’t played fewer than 139 games.
“It’s just patience,” Kinsler said. “You just wait it out. There’s not much you can do. With a muscle injury, you try and strengthen it and make sure everything around it is strong. Just take all the steps and wait for the muscle to heal and get back out there when you’re ready. It’s a muscle strain and it takes 10 days. Once you start feeling well you push the limit and do that every day until you feel normal.”
With Rodriguez set to begin a rehab assignment with Double A Portland on Monday, the roster may begin to regain some of its shape. While Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt have been a more than adequate platoon in Kinsler’s absence, Cora doesn’t expect an overcrowded infield to be an issue. The added depth will give Cora more options.
“I think it’s something that we’re going to take advantage of it,” Cora said. “I do feel that with everybody coming back — and I’ve been feeling this way the whole season — that we’re going to have a capable lineup out there and we can score a lot of runs.”
Some luck involved
The Sox entered Wednesday with the best record in baseball, their 86 wins the franchise’s most ever through 121 games, but the math would say some luck has been involved.
Baseball-Reference.com’s Pythagorean luck statistic, which measures the difference between actual won-loss record and Pythagorean won-loss record, claims five of those wins have come with a little good fortune.
Cora didn’t dispute that number. He also didn’t feel bad for whatever breaks the Sox might have gotten this season.
“Sometimes I look at baseball-reference, their expanded standings,” he said. “We’ve been lucky for their standards. Oh, well. I’ll take it.”
One advantage Cora believes the Red Sox have had is good weather. Aside from a rainout in Baltimore last month that led to a doubleheader on this road trip, the weather gods have been kind to the Sox.
“We haven’t run into [much terrible weather],” Cora said. “It’s coming. When we go to Atlanta, we know it’s going to be hot. But we haven’t been to like three cities in a row that it’s 92 and humid. And early in the season, although in Boston it was cold, it wasn’t that bad when we went to other cities, and I think that’s luck.”
The second-place Yankees, however, have had their weather issues, Cora acknowledged.
“I think so,” he said. “How many doubleheaders? Six? Seven? It got to the point that a few months ago that we had probably eight more games than they did. That’s tough, man. To play doubleheaders at this level, that’s tough.”
Butler to Pawtucket
Catcher Dan Butler, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple A Pawtucket . . . The Sox start a three-game series against Tampa Bay at Fenway on Friday. They will not face All-Star lefthander Blake Snell, who is scheduled to start against the Yankees on Thursday. Snell has started three games against the Sox this season and allowed two runs on 11 hits over 19 innings and struck out 19.
Julian Benbow can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @julianbenbow.