Shane Victorino On Verge Of Returning To Red Sox After Injury Battles

Shane VictorinoBOSTON — Outfielder Shane Victorino could return to the Red Sox as soon as Saturday.

Victorino, who hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 23 because of injuries, was hopeful he’d be activated before Friday’s second-half opener against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. The Red Sox decided Victorino needed at least one more rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket, but a return this weekend seems likely barring a setback.

“He always finds a way to say his piece,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Friday’s game. “At the same time, he came out of (Thursday’s rehab game) in good shape physically, he ran the bases aggressively, he went from first to third a couple of different times, slid head first, couple of base hits, made three plays I believe in right field. (Thursday) was a very good night for him and we anticipate him getting through (Friday’s rehab game) in a similar fashion physically.

“There’s a scenario that has him active for us (Saturday).”

Victorino was placed on the disabled list May 24 with a hamstring injury. The 33-year-old appeared to be on the mend, but he suffered a back injury last month that prevented him from participating in baseball activities. It’s been a frustrating season for Victorino and the Red Sox, who sorely miss the veteran outfielder.

“We’ve missed his energy, we’ve missed his talents,” Farrell said. “His in-game decisions, his instincts on the base paths. We’ve missed a very good player for the majority of the year. That being said, we’re very much looking forward to him getting back. We recognize there’s been a couple of start and stops along the way. What kind of production he gives us immediately remains to be seen.”

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks also is close to returning, according to Farrell. It’s unclear at this point, however, where Middlebrooks fits in from a roster standpoint.

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