Red Sox pregame notes: Shane Victorino could be activated tomorrow; Will Middlebrooks nears return; Sox remain hopeful for second-half run

July 18, 2014 - 3:08 pm

While the Red Sox only managed to post a 9-12 record in the 21 games that he played this season in the majors, there'€™s no denying that Shane Victorino brings a certain amount of panache to the table that the Red Sox have sufficiently lacked this year. Whether it be his proficiency in patrolling right field (25.0 UZR in 2013, first amongst all right fields in AL ), talent at the plate (.294/.351/.451 line last season) or skills on the basepaths (23-for-26 in stolen base attempts with Boston), Victorino has certainly left a void on the roster during the 74 games that he'€™s missed this season with hamstring and back issues. "€œWe'€™ve missed his energy, we'€™ve missed his talents, his in-game decision, his instincts on the basepaths, we'€™ve missed a very good player for a majority of the year," said Red Sox manager John Farrell before Friday'€™s game against the Royals. However, it appears that the 33-year-old outfielder will not be sidelined for much longer, as Farrell stated that there'€™s a definite scenario that he could be activated before Saturday'€™s game. Victorino played all nine innings of Triple-A Pawtucket'€™s game against Buffalo Thursday, going 2-for-4 while showing no hesitancy to test his hamstring both out on the field and on the basepaths. "He came out of last night in good shape physically, he ran the bases aggressively, went first to third a couple of different times, slid headfirst, a couple of base hits, made three plays in right field, so last night was a very good night for him and we anticipate him getting through tonight in a similar fashion physically and there'€™s a scenario which has him active for us tomorrow," Farrell said. Other Red Sox notes: -- Will Middlebrooks is also inching closer to returning to Boston, as Farrell noted Thursday that the ailing third baseman will resume his rehab with Pawtucket Friday and could potentially see some time in left field as well. Middlebrooks, who has posted a line of .232/.283/.339 in 17 games with the PawSox, could potentially be back up with the club before they embark on a crucial seven-game road trip against AL East opponents Monday, according to Farrell. "€œWe'€™re hopeful Will is fully healed over the things that he'€™s been battling - the wrist, the finger -€“ and he gets back to us a productive player,"€ Farrell said."œI can'€™t tell you sitting here right now that that would be tomorrow." When asked whether Middlebrooks could return before the upcoming road trip, Farrell added: "That'€™s possible, but I think with either move [for Middlebrooks or Victorino], there'€™s corresponding moves and we'€™ve got to work through those." -- The Red Sox have a potential season-deciding stretch coming up to open up the second half of the year, as 13 of Boston'€™s next 16 games come against AL East opponents. While Boston now sits 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and have just a 5.8 percent chance of making the playoffs (according to FanGraphs), both Farrell and catcher David Ross said that they were encouraged with how the Red Sox played entering the break and expressed enthusiasm of continuing their success going forward. "€œWe'€™ve played better, and I think it'€™s still going to start with who'€™s on the mound on a given night and how they keep the game under control, and that will be the case as we begin the second half," Farrell said. "We know we'€™ve got an uphill battle, but we can'€™t look at the big picture,"€ Ross said. "We'€™ll try to be a team that brings our A-game every night, play the best we can that night to beat that team and we prepare to beat the Kansas City Royals today and win or lose, we try to come back and do the same thing tomorrow." Ross continued: "I think [it'€™s] just getting back to playing consistently good baseball. I thought our at-bats cleaned up towards the end of the first half. We'€™ve been getting solid pitching all year, I think that'€™s one of our strong points of our team, but I think we'€™re excited."