Red Sox injury updates: Shane Victorino optimistic; David Ortiz just feeling old

Rob Bradford
October 29, 2013 - 3:00 am

ST. LOUIS -- As the Red Sox tried to harness their excitement following a 3-1 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the World Series, they also had to take stock of their physical status heading into Game 6. One player that most eyes will continue to be on will be Shane Victorino, who was once again forced from the lineup due to back tightness. It was believed that Victorino would be available for some sort of duty Monday night, but he wasn't even called upon to serve as a defensive replacement late in the game. Still, the outfielder suggested after the win that the two games off, coupled with Tuesday's day off, would put him in position to see action in Game 6. "That's the plan," said Victorino when asked if he hoped to return Wednesday night. Prior to the game, Red Sox manager John Farrell called Victorino "much improved," and said he could have probably started Game 5 but there were concerns over how long the outfielder could go. Victorino aggravated the back Saturday night and classified the injury as "probably the worst it's been in a while." He was, however, optimistic even Sunday night that a return wouldn't be far away. There was a scare for the Red Sox in the eighth inning when David Ortiz had to take a few minutes -- while being looked at by trainer Rick Jameyson and Farrell -- following a sprint down the first base line on the way to an infield hit. After the on-field examination, Ortiz remained in the game, moving gingerly, both on the basepaths and then in the field until he was replaced at first base with one out in the home half of the eighth via a double-switch. While Ortiz wouldn't offer any details during his post-game press conference, learned that the soreness was in his left heel. It wasn't considered serious, with the slugger saying on his way out of the stadium, "I'll be alright." "That hurt," a chuckling Ortiz said during his presser. "Just getting old, man. Just too much of running. I've been playing on the field the past three days, and I'm not used to it. And it's a whole totally different game. But you've got to do what you've got to do, especially at this stage. The World Series, you've got to help your ballclub to win games. Like they say, no pain, no gain." Jon Lester experienced some back discomfort in the later innings, with a healthy swing in the seventh seemingly aggravating the problem. But Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves explained that the issue cropped up even before the at-bat, due in part to the Busch Stadium mound. "Certain mounds in certain situations give him a little bit of discomfort. He got a little tight," Nieves said. "I believe was a little later in the game. He tried to throw more cutters and curveballs, which was more soothing for him. Just a little stiffness in his back. He'll be fine." Lester, who has now thrown more pitches than any pitcher in baseball this season (passing Detroit's Justin Verlander Monday night), downplayed the ailment. "I feel like it's October 28th, but stuff that you just kind of try to have to battle through," he said after a 7 2/3-inning outing. "We've got 25, 28, however many guys in that dugout that are relying on you to go out and pitch innings, and whatever it is now, you've got to put on the back burner, just like [Clay Buchholz] did yesterday. We've got three months to recover. The time is now. We've got to win now. And that's all you can really do. That's all you can really focus on." As for pitchers who might be able to contribute for Game 7, Farrell was optimistic about Clay Buchholz' status following the pitcher's four-inning outing Sunday night. "He's not finished, both mentally and physically he is '€‘'€‘ he's gearing up to be available on that day," said the manager regarding the possibility of pitching Thursday if necessary. Another pitcher the Red Sox hope to have available for a Game 7 if needed is Felix Doubront, who pitched back-to-back days in relief. The lefty, who threw a total of 57 pitches over a combined 4 2/3 innings, admitted that the pair of outings did take it's toll. "Today I feel sore," the lefty said after Game 5. "I played catch a little bit. I was sore. But Game 6, I'm ready."