Sox expect to activate Victorino on Saturday

BOSTON -- The Red Sox are expected to activate outfielder Shane Victorino prior to Saturday night's game against the Royals, though manager John Farrell said the team will evaluate the right fielder earlier in the day before making a final determination.

Victorino played seven innings in right field for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, going 1-for-4 with a double in his second straight day in action.

“Vic came out of his game after seven innings, four at-bats," Farrell said Friday after his Red Sox rallied for a 5-4 win over the Royals. "We’re going to check him here tomorrow before we make any kind of roster move just to insure that he’s OK after the full night."

Victorino has been limited to just 21 games for the Red Sox this season, with a .242 batting average, one home run and 10 RBIs. His last game for Boston came on May 23 at Tampa when he reinjured his hamstring. During his rehab, he suffered a few setbacks with his hamstring and back.

"We've missed his energy, we've missed his talents," Farrell said. "His in-game decisions, his instincts on the basepaths. We've missed a very good player for a majority of the year. That being said, we're very much looking forward to him getting back. We recognize that there's been a couple of start-and-stops along the way, so what kind of production he gives us immediately remains to be seen."

Prior to his 3-for-8 performance for the PawSox on Thursday and Friday, Victorino had gone 1-for-30 during his minor league rehab stints with Single-A Lowell and Pawtucket. After Thursday's game, he admitted it was the best he's felt on the field all season, but he realizes the production may not be immediate once he's activated.

Will Middlebrooks, who has been on the disabled list with a fractured finger and sore wrist, played third base for the PawSox on Friday. Farrell believes Middlebrooks isn't too far behind Victorino.

"I wouldn't say that they're tied to one another," Farrell said. "We're hopeful Will has fully healed over the things he's been battling -- the wrist, the finger -- and he gets back to us as a productive player. I can't tell you sitting here right now that that would be tomorrow."

Farrell did say it's a possibility Middlebrooks would be activated before the Red Sox leave for their next road trip Sunday night. With both Middlebrooks and Victorino on the verge of returning, the Red Sox will need to make a pair of corresponding moves. Farrell said they're still trying to figure out the best scenario.

• Don't expect rookie catcher Christian Vasquez to sit too often the rest of the way. Farrell has veteran catcher David Ross working with starter Clay Buchholz tonight, and Ross will again start with Jon Lester on the mound Sunday, but Vasquez will get his share of starts.

"I wouldn't say every other [game]," Farrell said. "I like the fact that David has the ability to take the first game of a series, take our game plan, implement it and can also mentor Christian in that way as it works inside of a given series. Still not looking to break up [Ross] and Jon Lester -- that will be something that will be preserved as we go forward. That's the approach right now."