Victorino missed all but 40 games in 2014 after a hamstring injury and back surgery, and this latest setback raises real questions about how much of a factor he will be this season, the last of a three-year, $39 million contract with Boston.
Bianchi, who hit .216 in 162 games over a span of three seasons with Milwaukee, was expected to arrive in time for Sunday's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels.
Victorino was removed in the third inning of Saturday night's 8-5 win over the Angels after his left leg seemed to buckle on him while going back on Erick Aybar's fly ball in front of the Boston bullpen. He had been a late scratch from the lineup Thursday with what manager John Farrell called "general soreness centered in the left calf."
Farrell attributed Victorino's placement on the DL to continuing "tightness" in the calf Sunday. Victorino was not in agreement with the decision, Farrell said.
Asked whether he recognized the necessity for downtime, Farrell said: "He didn't acknowledge it. That's the competitor he is. I'm not saying he fought this, but at the same time he's disappointed. He's frustrated."
"But in defense of Vic, it's kind of hard to plan inning to inning, rather than game to game."
That latter statement sounded less like a defense of Victorino than the underlying reason the Red Sox felt compelled to place the 34-year-old outfielder on the DL. Farrell repeatedly has acknowledged the difficulty of not knowing Victorino's availability on a day-to-day basis.
Even though Victorino underwent major back surgery (lumbar discectomy) last August in hopes of addressing chronic back and hamstring issues, the Red Sox clearly had some idea that his health would remain an issue. In hindsight, it probably factored into their decision to start the season with Castillo in Pawtucket, with the plan that he get regular at-bats (which he needed) until they could no longer depend on Victorino.
Farrell had said when Castillo was promoted on Friday that he had told Victorino he would be part of a rotation with Mookie Betts and Castillo. The plan going forward would suggest a greater role for Brock Holt and Daniel Nava, with Farrell cycling either or both of them into the lineup when he wants an additional left-handed hitter.
"When you look at the performance after he came back to us this year, after all he has been through, you give him a tremendous amount of credit for the work he's put in," Farrell said.
"I don't know that there's a stronger competitor in our clubhouse, a guy who means a lot to this team when he's active because then he feels he can speak his mind. It's tough for a player to speak his mind when he's not active and in the mix. Vic is a vocal guy on our clubhouse. He's a guy who impacts the game in a number of ways, and he'll be missed. That's why you believe as strongly in Vic, not only for what he did in 2013 but what he does every time he's on the field and near 100 percent healthy. So we've got to get him back to where durability is a little more consistent."