Shane Victorino’s Injury Could, Should Pave Way for Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Return to Red Sox

Jackie Bradley Jr.BOSTON — Jackie Bradley Jr. might want to start packing a bag.

Now that Shane Victorino has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 21), the Red Sox’ outfield is spread thin, which means Bradley could find himself back in the majors very soon.

The Red Sox recalled pitcher Alfredo Aceves to take Victorino’s roster spot on Friday, while infielder Jose Iglesias was recalled to take the spot vacated by Will Middlebrooks, who was also placed on the 15-day DL. Aceves’ stint with the big-league club could be very brief, though, as the need for an extra outfielder will likely become greater than the need for an additional pitcher in the coming days.

The biggest reason for calling up Aceves rather than an outfielder was because Ryan Dempster lasted just three innings in Thursday’s blowout loss. Five Boston relievers were forced to pitch the final six frames of that game, which included a 50-pitch effort from Clayton Mortensen. John Farrell said before Friday’s game that Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Miller were all available to go on back-to-back nights, but it made sense to add another arm, especially with the unpredictable conditions at Fenway Park this weekend.

“Given the short start [Thursday] night, we needed a pitcher in the short term,” Farrell said Friday. “We’re carrying an extra reliever obviously right now. At some point we’d like to get back to a balance of 12 pitchers and 13 position players.”

Farrell was noncommittal when asked on Friday if Bradley could become that 13th position player, but recalling the 23-year-old, who played in 12 games with Boston earlier this season, makes sense. The Red Sox’ 13th position player would ideally be an outfielder, and Bradley is the only option. Ryan Kalish and Alex Hassan, both battling injuries, are the only other outfielders available on the 40-man roster.

For now, the Red Sox can get by with Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp patrolling left field — or even Pedro Ciriaco on an emergency basis — but Gomes has become more of a platoon guy and Carp’s natural position is first base, so the situation is, by no means, ideal. Bradley would round out the big league roster nicely in Victorino’s absence. The rookie would add depth, gain a little bit more major league experience and have an opportunity to see regular at-bats.

One elephant in the room, of course, is Bradley’s recent DL stint because of biceps tendinitis. The outfielder is healthy and playing well since returning, but it’s reasonable to think he’s still working some things out. Perhaps a few days will do the trick and we’ll see Bradley following a soggy weekend at Fenway Park.

“I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves because of the need for a pitcher right now,” Farrell said Friday. “So as we reshuffle or maybe rebalance our roster, other names will start to come into the mix.”

That list of names could start and end with Jackie Bradley Jr.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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