Red Sox notes: As Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara return, Shane Victorino closes on joining them

April 17, 2014 - 6:09 pm

The initial weeks of the Red Sox season have been characterized mostly for the players whom the team has lost or come close to losing. Already, the team has endured disabled list stints by Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, while enduring scares with Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli. But for the first time, the Red Sox have enjoyed a stretch of what appears to be steady improvement in their outlook. Pedroia missed just two games with his left wrist inflammation before returning on Wednesday night. Napoli, after missing one game following the dislocation of a finger on his left hand, showed enough improvement and diminished swelling to return to the lineup for Thursday night's game against the White Sox. Koji Uehara, after missing six games with stiffness in his shoulder, likewise was expected to be available to pitch in Thursday night's game should the need arise.

 Meanwhile, Shane Victorino is expected to start his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, likely in Pawtucket, manager John Farrell told reporters. Victorino is currently slated to play on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday in the minors, at which point he'll be re-evaluated with the possibility of activation during the Sox' series at home against the Yankees next Tuesday through Thursday.

However, the Sox did receive imperfect medical news on one front, as Middlebrooks had to be sent back to Boston from Chicago after coming down with the flu. That, in turn, has delayed the progress of his rehab from his calf strain. His timetable for a rehab assignment has yet to be established. OTHER RED SOX NOTES

-- Farrell praised the work of left-hander Chris Capuano, who earned the victory with 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Wednesday's 14-inning exercise in endurance. He noted that Capuano has carried his full starter's mix into his work out of the bullpen to considerable effect.

"He'€™s given us such dependability in a short period of time down there with his strike throwing and being able to get right-handers and left-handers out with equal success," Farrell told reporters. "He'€™s added to the overall depth of that bullpen. It'€™s been very good. ... The biggest thing is their ability to throw multiple pitches. He and [Craig Breslow] are two guys that are similar and they take somewhat of a starters approach to shorter stints in that they'€™re using a number of different types of pitches. They'€™ve been dependable.'€ -- While the Red Sox had just two infield hits between the second and 13th innings on Wednesday, Farrell praised the offensive approach that netted 15 walks in that span.

"The thing that stands in more than anything is we didn'€™t cash in at-bats late in the game. We continued to stay with our overall approach and that was to be selective," Farrell told reporters. "Sure, we benefited from a high number of walks and that may be more the rarity, but still the approach at the plate was not giving at-bats away. And I think we demonstrated last night what we saw on a number of occasions last year."