When Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino was placed on the disabled list on Mar. 30 with a strained right hamstring, the Red Sox outfield was in shambles and without clear organizational structure. However, as Victorino is expected to return to Boston at some point this week, the Red Sox need to iron out personnel decisions in order for Victorino to have a smooth return in the outfield.
Currently the Red Sox have five outfielders on the active roster. All five have played an important role with the team this season, making for a very difficult decision. In terms of minor league options remaining, Jackie Bradley Jr. might have to go back to the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA). Despite having a fast start (hitting .360 in his first seven games), Bradley Jr. has only hit .100 (three hits in 30 at-bats) in his last ten games, with 13 strikeouts.
Although he hit a clutch two-run double against the Chicago White Sox in the 14th inning back on Apr. 16, Bradley Jr. might need to go back down to Pawtucket in order to regain his offensive mojo and demonstrate the offensive productivity he put up at the beginning of the season.
In addition to Bradley Jr., another outfielder who might be at risk of a roster move is Daniel Nava. After a 2013 campaign in which he hit .303, Nava’s offensive production has been abysmal in 2014. In 15 games, Nava has only hit .136 with 14 strikeouts, becoming a burden upon the Red Sox lineup. Even though he had a seemingly secure grasp on the third outfield job, Nava’s security might be at risk as the Red Sox might send him down to Pawtucket to help him develop stronger offensive skills.
With Bradley Jr. and Nava at risk, three outfielders remain. Grady Sizemore is only hitting .245, while Jonny Gomes is hitting a mere .194 with just one home run. The only outfielder hitting above .250 is Mike Carp, who is hitting a consistent .286 on the season. The Red Sox outfield in general has had plenty of problems this season, which makes Victorino’s return and a roster move seem like two beneficial solutions.
In essence, Shane Victorino’s return to the outfield will shake things up, but for the better. With Red Sox outfielders combining just to hit .205 this season, the need to make roster moves will be necessary in order for the Red Sox to have improved offensive output in the outfield. As Victorino continues his rehab with Pawtucket, expect the Red Sox to iron things out in the outfield as his return draws closer.
Most likely, the move will involve someone going down to Pawtucket, but either way, any move will help the Red Sox as they try to regain the momentum and look to return to the postseason in 2014.