BOSTON -- Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino continues his rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket Monday night, and manager John Farrell indicated he’s likely to return sometime during the team’s West Coast road trip to Oakland and Seattle. The Sox start a four-game series in Oakland on Thursday.
“Whether it’s Oakland or Seattle, that’s to be determined,” Farrell added.
Victorino (hamstring) was 0-for-2 while playing five innings on Saturday. He will play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday. But Farrell said that even when Victorino makes his return to the Red Sox lineup, there will be precautions taken.
“I think we’re going to have to continue to have some schedule once he returns to us rather than just turn it loose for nine innings every single day," Farrell said. "He’s had this reoccurring injury twice, so we’ve got to be mindful of that.”
With the decision on Victorino looming, the Red Sox will likely undergo another reshuffling of their outfield deck. Farrell said the team is exploring different potential outfield combinations but that the foremost concern is making sure Victorino’s return to the field isn’t temporary.
“We’ll adjust accordingly,” Farrell said.
He did acknowledge what those moves might mean for Daniel Nava, however. Nava has hit .379 in 29 at-bats this month since his recall from the PawSox on June 2.
“We also don’t forget what he did all of last year,” Farrell said. “That combination between he and Jonny [Gomes] was an extremely productive one. We need that production to return for us to sustain success.”
Victorino’s absence has meant a natural progression in the attempt to keep leadoff man Brock Holt in the lineup. Holt moves back to left field for Monday night’s series opener against the Minnesota Twins.
“The one thing he’s responded to is us putting him at any defensive position, and he’s handled it well,” Farrell said. “There wouldn’t be a hesitation to put him in center field if that were needed or to give Jackie [Bradley Jr.] a day. His newfound versatility that we’re finding has been not only an asset but a luxury for us.”
“It’s a possibility, yes,” Farrell said of Bogaerts’ potential to return to shortstop during the season. “That would mean a right-handed hitting left side infielder. Could that be Will Middlebrooks? Absolutely, it could be. In certain alignments, it could be against a left-handed pitcher, we could have a Middlebrooks-Bogaerts left side of the infield.”
Middlebrooks (finger) will join Victorino in the PawSox lineup in the next two games before a day off Wednesday and a string of three straight games to close the week.
What the Red Sox lineup will look like beyond then is anybody’s guess; just as no one could have predicted the rise of a certain utility infielder turned jack-of-all-trades.
“The need drove it, to be honest,” Farrell said of Holt’s ascent to an everyday contributor. “As a guy returned we found where the opening was and stuck him there and he’s continued on, whether it’s been first base when Mike Carp broke his foot to [Mike Napoli] coming back -- stick him in left. And then put him in right. It’s a pretty good showing on his part.”