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Red Sox pregame notes: Updates on Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino; Jackie Bradley Jr.’s growing pains; glimpse of the pitching future

09.19.13 at 7:29 pm ET
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Shane Victorino (right) is out of the lineup with a jammed thumb. (AP)

Shane Victorino (right) is out of the lineup with a jammed thumb. (AP)

The Red Sox are still trying to work their way back to a healthy outfield, but it remains to be seen when that happens. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has yet to commence baseball activities as he recovers from the non-displaced fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot. There is still no timetable for his return, but obviously, the opportunities for him to play in the regular season are dwindling. Manager John Farrell was asked whether, at this point his availability to play could be ruled out through the series in Colorado against the Rockies next Tuesday and Wednesday given that he has yet to start swinging or running.

“That’s a possibility,” Farrell said of the idea that Ellsbury’s return prior to Baltimore could be ruled out. “He’s going to be back in the lineup when he’s ready. I’d love to be able to give you an exact day but we’re still working toward that.”

Meanwhile, Shane Victorino is out of the lineup on Thursday, one night after he had to be replaced in extra innings by pinch-hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. due to his jammed right thumb. While the Sox are treating the Gold Glove candidate’s availability as day-to-day, Farrell said that he’s not concerned that there will be longer-term questions this year about Victorino’s ability to be on the field when needed.

“Other than the fact that he does need some time right now to get ahead, there’s not an overriding concern that he’s not going to be available,” said Farrell.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– With Ellsbury and Victorino out, Jackie Bradley Jr. is in center field for the Sox on Thursday. Bradley is hitting .156 with a .256 OBP and .278 slugging mark in 90 plate appearances this year, including a recent 0-for-11 stretch in his last four games. He is, Farrell said, getting acclimated to the big leagues, a not-uncommon reality that faces prospects.

“Still getting his feet on the ground. Still understanding the capability of major league pitching from day to day,particularly their command and their ability to attack certain areas when an opposing pitcher gets ahead in the count,” Farrell said of the 23-year-old’s performance. “He’s been challenged in certain areas of the strike zone that he’s been working at to continue to improve on. That’s all part of establishing himself at this level.”

The three top Red Sox pitching prospects who have yet to reach the big leagues — Triple-A starters Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes and Double-A left-hander Henry Owens — spent Tuesday and Wednesday around the Red Sox at Fenway Park to gain some familiarity with what awaits them in the future in the big league environment. They had an opportunity to see how the team dissects advance scouting reports and then to observe the pitcher/catcher pre-game meeting, and then to sit in the stands to see how that game plan was implemented.

While that exposure is no doubt valuable, Farrell said that the presence of former teammates like Brandon Workman and Drake Britton in the big leagues might offer an even more powerful message.

“There’s a guy that they were pitching with two months ago that’s pitching here, or there’s a couple of guys that are. That might serve as the best benefit in all of this,” said Farrell. “It’s a reminder to them of how close they are, but having outlined some of the specifics that the individual guy needs to be consistent with, in terms of delivery, pitches, all those things. But this was to try to draw closer their inevitable arrival here.”

Overall, Farrell characterized their visit as “a chance to sit down and give some candid feedback not on [them] specifically but what we would look for and somewhat require here. not just to get here, but hopefully to stay. And more importantly, let them know how important they are to the long-term health of the organization and that comes through young pitching.”

– The Sox have elected to tweak their rotation against the Blue Jays. Jon Lester will start on Friday against Toronto (as planned), with Clay Buchholz moving up to Saturday, flip-flopping days with Felix Doubront. Manager John Farrell said that the move was being made in order to split the left-handers in the rotation against the Blue Jays. Jake Peavy will start Tuesday in Colorado, while the Sox have yet to determine who will start next Wednesday.

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