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Shane Victorino, Will Middlebrooks to start rehab assignments

06.11.14 at 6:48 pm ET
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BALTIMORE — Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks are both nearing returns to games.

Victorino, out since May 23 due to his second hamstring injury of the season, is expected to commence a rehab assignment this weekend. The Red Sox will want to see the outfielder — hitting just .242 with a .276 OBP and .352 slugging mark in 21 games, a struggle that reflects in part on the fact that he missed the first 22 games while on the DL with an earlier iteration of the hamstring injury — gradually build up his workload to the point of being able to play nine innings and back-to-back days while determining how long he’ll need to be on the rehab assignment.

“We’€™re going to respond probably as much to how he feels with his hamstrings. There will be a baseball evaluation to go on simultaneously just to see where his timing is. I’€™m not going to put a number of at-bats on it yet,” manager John Farrell said of the duration of Victorino’s rehab.

Farrell suggested that the Sox might eventually consider the possibility of having Victorino play some center field for them, but that such considerations would have to wait until he is healthy enough to play. And in this case, given that Victorino suffered a recurrence of the hamstring injury after playing for a month, the Sox will be particularly cautious not only with his rehab schedule in the minors, but also by engaging in preventive measures such as having Victorino get what Farrell described as “balanced, periodic rest” once he does return to the big leagues.

As for Middlebrooks, the swelling on his broken right index finger is still subsiding and he’s still working to regain flexibility of the digit. That limits him primarily when he tries to throw the ball — the third baseman recently made some throws from third that he estimated to be at roughly 70-75 percent of normal intensity — and so the Sox will give the finger more time to heal by having him begin a rehab assignment as a designated hitter with Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.

In 21 big league games woven between two trips to the disabled list this year, Middlebrooks is hitting .197 with a .305 OBP and .324 slugging mark.

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