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Red Sox pregame notes: Jacoby Ellsbury could return by Wednesday; Sox hope to start Victorino rehabbing this week

06.04.13 at 6:09 pm ET

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday that Jacoby Ellsbury could return to the lineup as early as Wednesday, depending on how his recovery from a groin injury progresses.

“Jacoby today was on the field and did some running, some more functional activity,” Farrell said prior to Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. “We’re hopeful that this takes a complete turn over the next couple of days. That’s not ruling out him being in the lineup tomorrow. We had to get him through some functional testing today and then see how he responds to that and how he feels tomorrow, so tomorrow is still a possibility for him to be back in center field.”

Farrell said he doesn’t expect this to be a long-term problem for Ellsbury, who first suffered the stiffness in his left groin against the Phillies on May 30, and he suggested that a DL stint appeared unnecessary.

Ellsbury’s offensive production had been picking up a bit before his injury: in the 10 games before he was hurt, he had a .400/.489/.550 line, with four doubles and a triple. That brought him up to .268/.337/.372 on the season – not outstanding, but an improvement for him after a cold start to May.

— The Sox’ other injured outfielder, Shane Victorino, isn’t quite as far along in his recovery, but Farrell was optimistic that he could begin rehabbing soon. Victorino had previously been expected to return June 5, but recently he’s had lingering issues with his left hamstring, preventing him from running at full speed, that will hold him out beyond that date.

“Shane got up to about 80 percent intensity [while running on Tuesday],” Farrell said. “We’re hopeful he’s out on a rehab assignment sometime here before the week is out.”

Victorino has been out since May 21 and is hitting .283/.343/.362 on the year in 34 games. He’s also missed some time with back and hip problems.

Will Middlebrooks, who is recovering from a lower back strain, is beginning his rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket Tuesday night.

“We expect him to be there through the end of the week,” Farrell said. “We’ll reevaluate where things are at that point.”

Middlebrooks hasn’t played since May 23, and Jose Iglesias has moved temporarily from shortstop to third base in his absence. Before his injury, Middlebrooks was hitting .201/.234/.408 with eight home runs in 46 games.

Franklin Morales will be available out of the bullpen for the Sox Tuesday, Farrell said. The left-hander missed the first two months of the season with a back injury and made a spot start in place of Clay Buchholz on May 30.

Morales gave up two runs over five innings against the Phillies, striking out two and walking two, in that start, which the Sox won 9-2. His fastball hit 94 mph at one point, but was mostly in the low 90s, a drop-off from where it sat last year. He’ll give the Sox another lefty option in the bullpen, in addition to Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller.

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