PAWTUCKET — In the world of target dates and timetables, Shane Victorino’s bid to rejoin the Red Sox during the team’s current West Coast sojourn came up well short.
With Wednesday marking the final game of a three-game set in Seattle, the best that Victorino can hope for is a return this weekend in New York. In order reach the point where the Red Sox feel comfortable enough to activate him, it’s safe to say that the outfielder will have to withstand the challenge of playing nine innings.
“I'm trying to push the limits a little bit and try to get there tomorrow, but from a medical standpoint, we're looking at the big picture, and flying all the way out west to play in a game and then flying all the way back to play in New York is maybe not such a smart thing to do. I understand that, but I'm pushing it. I'm trying to get them to give me the okay to go, but I've got to get through a game first,” said Victorino. “I haven't played nine innings. Before I worry about getting on a flight to Seattle and playing a nine-inning big-league game, I've got to show I can play nine innings (in the minors) –and back-to-back days. We're focused on that right now and taking it one day at a time.”
Victorino was removed after playing six innings for the PawSox on Tuesday night. He went hitless in four at-bats with a strikeout. He also overshot third baseman Garin Cecchini from right field in the fifth inning, the error enabling Norfolk to score three times in the frame.
Victorino was making his first appearance with the PawSox in a week. He returned to game action for Single-A Lowell Monday night, going 0-for-3 while playing half the game in right field.
On Boston’s disabled list with a right hamstring strain, Victorino was shut down last week with what was branded general soreness and stiffness. He credits the work of Red Sox sports-medicine coordinator Dan Dyrek for allowing him to resume his quest to get back to the majors. Dyrek was at McCoy Stadium Tuesday.
“Dan is unbelievable when it comes to that kind of stuff and getting a guy back out here. I've got to give a lot of credit to him. If you'd told me two days ago or three days ago that I'd be playing a game and probably get a chance to play nine innings, I'd have said, 'I doubt that' the way I felt, the way the back felt. People say, 'You're made of glass. You're made of tissue paper.' They tease. But I take it as a positive criticism. That just motivates me to want to get back faster. I don't take it in a negative way if somebody says that. It's just part of what it is,” said Victorino. “Injuries are something that you can't, obviously, you don't know it's coming, and you don't know what's going to happen. You can only prepare and continue to work and continue to keep yourself in the right frame of mind, the right shape, and hopefully continue once I get back out there to go.”
While there’s a part of Victorino that’s itching to return, he’s also a realist in that his lengthy absence has opened the door for others – most notably Brock Holt – to play on a regular basis.
“That's an example of a guy who now can play every day in the big leagues and showed he can play every day in the big leagues. Things sometimes happen like that,” Victorino said. “I try never to look at where our team is and the frustration of me not being out there. I'm the culprit. I'm upset I'm not out there. I'm feeding into that same thing that everyone is dealing with because I'm not there to help. That's the part that's frustrating, but I'm healthy, and we're going to go one day at a time.”
As for the other rehabber currently on the mend with the PawSox, Will Middlebrooks was off Tuesday. According to manager Kevin Boles, it was a regularly scheduled day off for the third baseman. On his second rehab stint with the PawSox, Middlebrooks is 6-for-19 through six games.
While Middlebrooks has yet to appear in an actual game in the outfield for Pawtucket, he has been acquiring a feel for the new terrain during pregame activities. According to Boles, the focus right now is making sure his right thumb checks is able the riggers of regular playing time.
“He’s had some fungo work. Whether it’s groundballs or flyballs or touch throws to second base, he’s looked good. He’s done well,” said Boles. “I think the biggest thing with him is getting the at-bats and the timing down, as it is with all the rehab guys.”
Like Victorino, Middlebrooks began his 20-day injury rehab stint on June 14.
Bryce Brentz and his nagging hamstring are presently stationed in Fort Myers. The outfielder hasn’t appeared in a game since May 15. Game action for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox is a hurdle that’s yet to be cleared with Boles relaying that Brentz at the moment is limited to treatments and workouts.
Just to give an idea just how much Brentz’ bat is missed in the middle of Pawtucket’s lineup, he still leads the team in RBI (28).
“We definitely miss that presence. Hopefully he’ll be coming back shortly,” Boles said.
EXTRA BASES: Mike Carp is scheduled to rehab with the PawSox this weekend. The 1B/OF has been on Boston’s disabled list since late May with a fractured right foot. … Garin Cecchini was back at third base Tuesday after starting the previous two games in left field. …The 10-game homestand the PawSox kicked off Tuesday is the franchise’s longest home stint at McCoy Stadium in 16 games. The series with Norfolk, which is managing by former PawSox skipper Ron Johnson, continues Wednesday with Anthony Ranaudo on the mound for Pawtucket.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03