Flu finally gone, Victorino working way back

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino made a return to Fenway Park on Wednesday, taking a small step forward as he rebounds from the double-whammy of a right hamstring strain and a bad case of the flu.

Victorino was able to jog a bit and throw long toss, and he planned to begin some light swinging in the cage. He still has no timetable for his return, but is happy to get the flu out of the way so that he can increase the baseball activities.

“Nice to be back today, without wearing a mask around the clubhouse and not spreading what I had. In that regard it feels good to be back,” he said.

Victorino took it slow during spring training as he recovered from offseason thumb surgery but was good to go as March neared an end. The hamstring injury came “out of nowhere” just before the club was to travel north for the Baltimore series that began March 31. After a season in which he was limited to 122 games due to a variety of physical issues -- including those of the hamstring variety -- and after being careful during the spring, it was frustrating to be sidelined so soon.

“We did everything we could possibly do,” he said. “That was just one of those freak things. We had no complaints from that side with the hamstring. I know I’ve hurt it in the past but nothing was going on there. That was the part that was frustrating.”

Victorino is eligible to come off the disabled list when Boston visits the Chicago White Sox for three games starting next Monday. The delay in activity, due in part to the illness, has made that unlikely, but Victorino is keeping all options open.

“My legs are my game and having that window, 7-10 days, with the strain that I had, taking the full 15 days, I think it was something we wanted to set out with the right mindset that everything was going to be healthy,” he said. “Unfortunately, the flu set it back a few days.

“In regards to moving forward and baseball activity, that was the part we really didn’t know where we stood.”

Although he felt as if he could rehab around the team and jump back into full action when ready, Victorino acknowledged he will likely need two or three games in the minors. Perhaps mindful of being in and out of the lineup often in 2013, Victorino said he has to be careful not to push the issue.

“My game is my legs, so I think it’s important for me to understand that and not want to rush to get it back,” he said.

The 33-year-old said he began to feel ill the day he was sent for an MRI on the hamstring, initially thinking it was just allergies. Soon he was bed-ridden, and he estimates he lost 8-12 pounds while battling the flu.

Victorino was present for the World Series ring ceremony at the home opener and visited the clubhouse for treatment during some games so as not to be around his teammates. Aside from that and some limited work in his home gym, he laid down, watched Red Sox games on TV and waited for the illness to run its course.

“Other than the energy to watch the game, that was all I had. It was brutal. I wish this upon nobody.”