PHILADELPHIA -- Though Shane Victorino had to spend his return to Philadelphia on the disabled list, he was at least making progress with the left hamstring strain that has sidelined him since May 20.
The outfielder could start a short Minor League rehab assignment as early as this weekend, putting him in position to be activated June 5 against the Rangers.
"We're hopeful," said manager John Farrell. "Hopeful meaning either when we get to New York sometime in that weekend, we'd like to get at least a couple of days in games before [June 5] rolls around. The fact is, his baseball activity ramps up. He's feeling good. He's swinging the bat. Ran today and things are moving in the right direction."
The same can be said for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who should return on June 8, when the Red Sox play the middle game of a three-game series against the Angels.
Middlebrooks has been dealing with a lower back strain.
"Dry swings today," said Farrell. "He did some running outside. Even the last couple of days, he's been taking some throws on the infield and feels like things have really quieted down in his lower back. We feel like he's on schedule for that June 8 activation as well."
Buchholz again pushed back; next start uncertain
PHILADELPHIA -- The Red Sox have altered their plan on Clay Buchholz. The righty was tentatively supposed to start a three-game weekend series with the Yankees on Friday night in New York.
It now appears that Sunday will be the earliest Buchholz returns from a right AC joint injury that prevented him from taking the ball against the Phillies on Monday.
Instead of pitching Thursday against the Phillies, lefty Jon Lester will open the three-game series against the Yankees on Friday instead of Buchholz. Franklin Morales, who was activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, will start Thursday's game in Philadelphia.
"Clay went and threw a bullpen today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He feels improved. He still feels some symptoms in that AC joint. When he mentioned that, this is something I took out of his hands. I made the decision to give him another couple of days. He's still a possibility in the New York series, but while he's feeling improved, we felt like it would be best to give him a couple more days as well."
Buchholz still thinks it's realistic he can pitch in New York.
"I want to pitch Friday, but they're going to give it a little more time to feel 100 percent like I have all year and get this moved out of the way, so it doesn't affect me down the road," said Buchholz.
Though the Red Sox don't expect their ace to be out much longer, they'll take a wait-and-see approach.
"I don't know that we have any template to say how fast this would recover, but he indicated that there was still some improvement today over the other day," Farrell said. "Yet the fact that he still feels a little something in there, that's where I was like, 'I'm going to take it out of his hands' and make the decision to give him a couple more days to hopefully get past anything that he's feeling so when he does walk out to the mound there's nothing subconscious in his mind, nothing that he feels.
"The encouraging thing through this is that while he's throwing his bullpens, his arm slot is the same, his delivery's the same. This is located in the AC joint. There's nothing in the rotator cuff. All strength tends are very strong. They're good. They're consistent with Spring Training. This is just something we want to quiet down completely before we run him out there."
Bradley excited to be back, likely to help off bench
PHILADELPHIA -- Jackie Bradley Jr.'s second stint in the Major Leagues probably won't be a long one, but he's excited to be back to help the Red Sox off the bench.
When the Red Sox sent Bradley back to the Minors on April 18, he was in the midst of an 0-for-20 slump.
"I really just had to get my rhythm back," he said. "I felt like I could hit inside, outside, all those pitches, I just had to get my timing back. Then everything else just started clicking."
During his earlier stint with Boston, Bradley was the team's primary left fielder. This time, all positions are spoken for, and Bradley is essentially filling a roster spot until Shane Victorino returns in one week.
"It gives us an extra position player," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We fully expect in these couple of games there will be some different moves within the game that we'll be required to make. To get an extra position player, it's needed."
Bradley won't start in the two-game series against the Phillies.
"Not at this point," said Farrell. "Now, when we get into New York, that could change based on the matchups we have there. Certainly left field in New York takes a different look, particularly the ground to cover out there. Fact is, we'd go back to one of the few parks he's been in, so there would also be some comfort level for him there."