NEW YORK -- A few quick hits prior to the rubber game of this Red Sox-Yankees series:
While Red Sox manager John Farrell said outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is continuing to improve and the club is "shooting” for him to return Tuesday against Texas, the injury news was not as encouraging for Shane Victorino.
The Flying Hawaiian remains the Grounded Hawaiian, as Farrell said that the club is delaying sending him out on a rehab assignment after watching him run here Sunday afternoon.
"He's not running at 100 percent yet," Farrell said. "The one thing we're being cautious with here is that based on experience having him come back and play successive games, he's had a couple of setbacks prior to going on the disabled list. We want to make sure there's a gradual improvement, which he's showing, but to say he's going on a rehab assignment tomorrow or the next day is probably premature at this point. So, we're just being a little overly cautious given what's transpired."
Victorino is eligible to be activated Wednesday, but that has all been ruled out by the Sox. Counting Sunday, he has started just 33 of the team's first 58 games, missing time with a lower back issue (that did not put him on the DL) and a strained hamstring. The Sox suspect the two issues may be related.
Farrell insists Victorino has not reaggravated the hamstring. "It's just when he tries to get to that explosiveness, he doesn't have quite the confidence," Farrell said, "and we're honestly telling him to more gradually get into it. The one thing we don't want to do is turn this thing into an extended period. If it takes a couple more days than the June 5th activation date, we're certainly willing to do whatever it takes to get by that. What we don't want is for that to be a drop-dead date, he comes back, and reaggravates it."
* Ellsbury ranks second in the AL in the percentage of pitches with which he makes contact. He's at 90 percent. Jeff Keppinger of the White Sox is first at 91 percent.
* Dustin Pedroia is baseball's best hitter with two strikes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Forty-one of Pedroia's 74 hits have come with two strikes, and he is batting .331 after two strikes (41-for-124). His complete slash line after two strikjes is .331/.407/.452/.859.
Incredibly, Pedroia is batting .433 (13-for-30) on 0-and-2 counts.
The league average after two strikes is .186. On 0-and-2 counts, it's .165.
* It has now been more than two full weeks since reliever Daniel Bard appeared in a game for Double-A Portland. He has been limited to side work since May 15, when he walked five in an inning of work. Bard remains on Portland's active roster, Farrell said, but the Sox are clearly focused on making this a long-term reclamation project.
In his last 10 appearances with Portland this season, Bard had walked 16 and given up 10 hits in 9 2/3 innings.