Shane VictorinoShane Victorino could rejoin the Boston Red Sox when the club opens a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Friday at Yankee Stadium. If so, it won’t be a moment too soon for the veteran outfielder.

Victorino, who was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury on May 24, has been limited to 21 games this season because of various ailments. The 33-year-old has watched the Red Sox struggle in his absence, making his desire to return even greater.

“I’m a culprit,” Victorino said Monday after playing in a rehab game with Single-A Lowell, according to “I’m part of the problem not being out there, not helping those guys.”

Victorino originally was expected to rejoin the Red Sox on their current West Coast swing. He recently suffered a setback because of general soreness, though, and Friday now marks Victorino’s earliest possible return, although an exact date hasn’t been set.

The whole situation, Victorino admits, has been frustrating.

“The game itself presents a lot of pressure,” Victorino said. “To add things like that, to understand that the outfield is struggling and people are hoping I can go out there. I tell people when I come back I’m just going to go out there and give 100 percent. Whatever you’re going to get, you’re going to get.”

Victorino went 0-for-3 in Monday’s rehab game. He’s expected to play Tuesday with Triple-A Pawtucket, after which he’ll be reevaluated. The Red Sox certainly are being cautious with Victorino, as he’s dealt with a myriad of physical issues since the beginning of spring training, but Boston definitely could use both his bat and his glove back in the lineup as soon as possible.

“It sucks. It’s definitely not fun,” Victorino said. “You want to be back, you want to be out there, that’s what it’s all about. It’s what I’ve got to do to get back, to stay out there and be healthy, so I think that’s what’s important.”

The Red Sox, who fell to seven games below .500 (35-42) with Monday’s loss to the Seattle Mariners, currently are trying to stay afloat in the American League East. Victorino is staying optimistic, however, recognizing that Boston still poses a threat given how much baseball remains.

“You hope for the best, but there’s still time for us to turn things around. It’s never too late,” Victorino said. “I’ve been in a position where we’re seven and a half games back and 18 to go, and we ended up winning the division.”

Victorino was an integral part of the Red Sox’s 2013 World Series win. Perhaps he’ll be a key ingredient in a 2014 turnaround.