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Victorino takes 'planned off day'

BOSTON -- As expected, right fielder Shane Victorino is out of the lineup in the series finale against the Angels. He was activated from the disabled list for Saturday’s nightcap but felt a tweak in his healed hamstring running the bases in the first inning. Victorino remained in the game, and Farrell indicated that Sunday’s day off had nothing to do with any physical problems. It is all part of managing the playing time of a guy who goes hard but has had his fair share of issues over the first part of the season.

“I think as we get into the remainder of this week we’ll look to pick some spots for him,” Farrell said. “That might be two on, one off, that type of scenario. But we’re not stuck to that either. Most of this is going to depend on how Shane responds. But today was a planned off day from the get-go.”

Victorino also has dealt with back and side pain, some of which stems from his all-out style of play, particularly in the outfield. The veteran will not be changing anytime soon, nor does the club expect him to.

“We have to be accepting of that,” Farrell said. “That’s why we take him through a number of tests leading up to being activated. We’re never going to ask a player to be someone who he’s not. And we ask him to be smart about it, but we know that instincts and characteristics are going to kick in.

“But yeah, he was activated all of about an hour and he was going first to home and a piece of sod gives way and it grabs a hamstring and he’s laying at home plate. We thought, one inning in this has the potential of not being too good. But fortunately he came out of it OK.”

The Sox head to Tampa Bay for three games beginning Monday night, meaning that the unforgiving turf at Tropicana Field could factor into Farrell’s decisions on Victorino’s playing time.

* Victorino went on the DL the same day as third baseman Will Middlebrooks, although retroactively. Middlebrooks has just become eligible to come off the list, but will continue to get his hacks in at the Triple-A level.

While the second-year slugger has looked pretty good through four games for Pawtucket, hammering two home runs, the club wants to make sure Middlebrooks is not only healthy but feels completely comfortable at the plate and in the field before being activated.

Middlebrooks was hitting .201 with 54 strikeouts against just seven walks before going on the DL.

“Not specifically, but soon,” Farrell said when asked if there was a timetable for Middlebrooks’ activation. “Another game last night where there was more timing. Good swings but yet not the results that he’s had. And I want to go back to when we outlined this, this wasn’t a matter of a batting average to get him back here. It was a matter of just getting into the flow of the game and gaining some momentum. So we’re hopeful to see him soon.”

The fact that Jose Iglesias has played so well in Middlebrooks’ absence has afforded the organization the opportunity to bide its time. Still, despite the fact that Iglesias is hitting .443 and has shown he can man third base just fine, the long-term plan has not changed in Farrell’s mind, and there is no debate on who starts at third once Middlebrooks is ready.

“That was outlined at the outset is we feel what’s best for Will is best for us,” Farrell said. “And that’s to get him not only with the health things behind him, which everything points to that being the case right now, that there’s no more back issue, and for him to get on a little bit of a roll to come back to us.

“Will’s our third baseman. We have said that but yet at the same time Jose is doing an excellent job. And once Will’s returned and the roster decision is made, then if the scenario is that Jose is our utility guy then we have got to be sure that we rotate him through there to keep him in the mix.”

As for how often Iglesias gets rotated through the various infield positions, Farrell is open to altering that plan. Originally, the skipper said that he foresaw Iglesias playing two times a week in the utility role. He now admits to possibly expanding that role a bit for Iglesias, who saw his first career action at second base, a two-inning stint in a blowout win, on Tuesday.

* The Sox hand the ball to veteran Ryan Dempster for the finale of their six-game homestand. Dempster made three starts against the Angels last year, going 0-2 with an 11.20 ERA. He surrendered four home runs and 10 walks in 13 2/3 difficult innings, but Farrell is looking for more of the Dempster he has seen in the last two starts, during which the right-hander has allowed five runs in 14 frames.

“To continue what’s he’s done the last two times out,” Farrell said of his hopes for Dempster on Sunday. “He’s been much better down in the strike zone; he’s worked ahead in the count. He hasn’t had those innings where he’s lost his arm slot or his release point. And I think the way he’s gone about his work in between starts, everything points to him being as consistent as the last two.”

Farrell said Dempster continues to manage a groin issue that cropped up earlier in the season, but it is largely behind the righty.

“I don’t think that’s something that completely ever goes away but it’s being dealt with as best as possible,” Farrell said.