NEW YORK — It’s unclear if and when the Red Sox will call up top prospect Mookie Betts this season. It’s abundantly clear, however, that Boston is taking the necessary steps to prepare the 21-year-old for such a move.
Right fielder Shane Victorino has been shut down from baseball activities after tweaking his back during his minor league rehab assignment, according to Red Sox manager John Farrell. There’s currently no timetable for Victorino’s return, but Betts is beginning to see playing time in right field at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“There’s been some correlation to that,” Farrell acknowledged before Friday’s game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. “ … We’re just trying to get (Betts) exposure to center and right field in the event some further discussion or ultimate decision is made to bring him here. That has not happened yet.”
Betts, who was drafted as a second baseman in 2011, has begun to learn the outfield in recent weeks. Most of Betts’ playing time has come in center field, but the hot-hitting prospect started his second game in right field with Pawtucket on Friday.
Victorino, who landed on the disabled list last month with a hamstring injury, originally was expected to join the Red Sox during their recent West Coast trip. General soreness caused a setback, though, and the 33-year-old now is receiving treatment on his lower back area.
Betts, meanwhile, continues to rake. The former fifth-round pick entered Friday’s action hitting .348 with a .437 on-base percentage and .960 OPS this season in 76 game split between Pawtucket (22 games) and Double-A Portland (54 games). Betts has racked up eight homers, 48 RBIs and 29 steals, and he has more walks (49) than strikeouts (33) — a reflection of his incredibly advanced plate discipline.
Betts has stayed humble amid his rapid ascent through the Red Sox system. The stars continue to align for a 2014 arrival to The Show.
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