The Boston Red Sox‘ triple-A affiliate Pawtucket Red Sox released the lineup for their Wednesday night game against the Norfolk Tides. Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino, on a rehab assignment with the PawSox, was absent from the batting order, with manager Kevin Boles opting for Alex Hassan in right.
It’s the latest speed bump in the return of Victorino, who is on his second stint on the disabled list in the second year of a three-year, $39 million deal that he signed with Boston in Dec. 2012.
The ever-frustrating rehab for the 33-year-old Victorino has come with a lot of those speed bumps. Since beginning his rehab assignment at Pawtucket on Jun. 14, Victorino has played just five games — four with Pawtucket and one with the single-A Lowell Spinners — going a combined 0-for-13. He has yet to play a full game, battling back tightness as the rehab goes on.
Initially expected to join the Red Sox for their seven-day west coast trip that began last Thursday, setbacks prevented such an occurrence coming to fruition for Victorino. The hope is that he can join the team Friday when they embark on a three-game series against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.
Regardless of when Victorino returns to the lineup, the Red Sox shouldn’t expect much from the right fielder. If the last ten days have been an indication of anything, it’s that little is likely to come of Victorino’s 2014 campaign.
Missing the first 22 games of the season with a hamstring injury, Victorino returned to the DL after just 21 games, hitting .242 with a .628 OPS, one home run and 10 RBIs. After a month off, he can barely get on the field let alone stay, with a back issue now being thrown in Victorino’s direction.
The hope was that Victorino would return and put a spark into the struggling Boston lineup, bringing energy, athleticism and outfield production to a lineup that sorely lacked all three. But it’s hard to generate a rhythm without getting consistent at-bats, and it’s hard to get consistent at-bats when you can’t stay on the field. It’s even harder to deliver the three elements aforementioned when you’re not in the lineup.
Based on what’s been seen from Victorino, it’s hard to picture him being able to stay on the field and give this team the boost it needs. It’s well within the realm of possibility that he will find himself back on the DL sooner rather than later, be it with his chronic hamstring issues or the back issue that has been added to the laundry list.
Victorino gave the Sox a huge boost in 2013 when he finally got healthy. From Jun. 21 on, he hit .302 with an .855 OPS, 34 extra-base hits, 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 77 games. Getting a similar boost from Victorino in 2014 is wishful thinking.
Unfortunately, the Red Sox need that boost more than anything, as they’re barely hanging on in the AL playoff race. In order to get that boost, the Sox will likely have to look outside the organization.