Red Sox pregame notes: Will Middlebrooks back in lineup in Pawtucket, John Farrell hopes Shane Victorino starts rehab assignment next week

July 01, 2014 - 2:51 pm

Even though his right index finger is still swollen to the point where it is two times its normal size, Will Middlebrooks is returning to games. The third baseman, who broke his finger on May 16 against the Detroit Tigers, will be the designated hitter for the PawSox Tuesday night. Prior to Tuesday, the time last Middlebrooks played a game was on June 22, when he was the designated hitter against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Middlebrooks has taken some groundballs at third base and is beginning to feel more and more comfortable throwing the ball across the diamond. "The swelling is starting to be reduced some," Farrell said. "The fact that he's been pulled back for five days off the rehab, we've got to get him going again." Prior to the injury, Middlebrooks had been taking fly balls in left field with the intention of seeing game action at the position -- his first as a pro. While he will work as the DH and then get back to third base,the team hopes that the 20-day clock of his new rehab assignment will offer a chance to get Middlebrooks some time in the outfield. "Our original plan when he went down to rehab was to expose left field at some point and because of the recurring swelling in the finger, we shot everything down," Farrell said. "We're somewhat starting over in a sense, but at some point over the next 20 days, we'd like to get some exposure there. As we've seen other guys produce with the bat, we'll find a way to get him on the field defensively." OTHER RED SOX NOTES: -- Shane Victorino continues to work his way to get back on the field after his latest injury setback. During his last rehab stint, Victorino had a popped disc in his back, which led to general soreness in his lower back. Farrell hopes to see Victorino start his rehab assignment soon. "[Victorino] continues to increase his jogging and agility work," Farrell said. "I would hope that sometime next week, we could begin another rehab assignment for him and games played, but this has been a start and stop situation and we're trying to do everything that we can. Once we restart it, it continues on." -- For two games in the outfield at the major league level, Mookie Betts has satisfied Farrell with his defense. Betts, who started playing outfield in games in May after coming up through the system as a second baseman, is still learning the intricacies of patrolling Fenway Park. "There was just one ball that he went back on with the unfamiliarity of Fenway where the ball that typically will be caught will be with the repetition on his part," Farrell said. Based on his early looks and the assessment of team officials about Betts' work in the outfield, Farrell is pleased with where the 21-year-old is at defensively. "We go by the reports," Farrell said. "The reports from the staff in both Portland and Pawtucket have been very good from the initial exposure to the work that he's been doing there."