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Red Sox notes: As Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara return, Shane Victorino closes on joining them 04.17.14 at 10:09 pm ET
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Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

Koji Uehara is available to pitch on Thursday night. (AP)

The initial weeks of the Red Sox season have been characterized mostly for the players whom the team has lost or come close to losing. Already, the team has endured disabled list stints by Shane Victorino and Will Middlebrooks, while enduring scares with Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara and Mike Napoli.

But for the first time, the Red Sox have enjoyed a stretch of what appears to be steady improvement in their outlook. Pedroia missed just two games with his left wrist inflammation before returning on Wednesday night. Napoli, after missing one game following the dislocation of a finger on his left hand, showed enough improvement and diminished swelling to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the White Sox. Koji Uehara, after missing six games with stiffness in his shoulder, likewise was expected to be available to pitch in Thursday night’s game should the need arise.

 Meanwhile, Shane Victorino is expected to start his minor league rehab assignment on Saturday, likely in Pawtucket, manager John Farrell told reporters. Victorino is currently slated to play on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday in the minors, at which point he’ll be re-evaluated with the possibility of activation during the Sox’ series at home against the Yankees next Tuesday through Thursday.

However, the Sox did receive imperfect medical news on one front, as Middlebrooks had to be sent back to Boston from Chicago after coming down with the flu. That, in turn, has delayed the progress of his rehab from his calf strain. His timetable for a rehab assignment has yet to be established.

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Dodged bullet? No disabled list for Dustin Pedroia, Koji Uehara 04.14.14 at 8:13 pm ET
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Koji Uehara and the Red Sox had news to jump up and down about. (AP)

Koji Uehara and the Red Sox had news to jump up and down about. (AP)

The Red Sox, who faced concerns about the possibility of losing a pair of critical roster members in closer Koji Uehara (shoulder stiffness) and second baseman Dustin Pedroia (left wrist soreness), received positive news in the examinations of both players at Mass. General Hospital on Monday (an off-day for the Red Sox). Neither player was diagnosed with structural damage, and so both will avoid a stint on the disabled list. They’re being described as day-to-day entering the series against the White Sox.

Here is the Red Sox press release:

Dustin Pedroia today underwent an MRI at Massachusetts General Hospital that revealed inflammation in his left wrist, and no fractures. He will rejoin the Red Sox in Chicago tomorrow, and his status is day-to-day.

Koji Uehara underwent an MRI today at MGH that revealed no structural damage in his right shoulder. He will rejoin the club in Chicago tomorrow, and his status is day-to-day.

Shane Victorino is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment with one of the club’€™s minor league affiliates later this week.

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Shane Victorino: Michael Pineda’s alleged use of pine tar ‘was too obvious” 04.11.14 at 7:43 pm ET
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NEW YORK —  Shane Victorino seemed to speak for the majority of players in the Red Sox‘€ clubhouse when asked about the controversy surrounding the foreign substance spotted on Michael Pineda‘s right hand Thursday night.

‘€œI don’€t sit here and go ‘€˜˜he’s cheating.’€ Do whatever you’€ve got to do get a grip on that ball so it doesn’€t hit me in the head,” Victorino said. “There are nights when you can’€t feel a grip. Last night was a little overboard. But we couldn’€t hit him. That’€s my point, it’€s going to be a bigger story because the camera caught it. As I said, you can’€t take anything away from Pineda’€s performance but people are going to assume that he did what he did because of that ‘€no. He’€s going to come out clean next outing and be just as good, he can do that.

‘€œWhat are we going to do now? No, it’€s too late. It’€s not like we can take it back. Let the league handle it and whatever decision they decide to make, let them make and it is what it is.’€

Victorino emphasized that while the glob of what appeared to be pine tar was perhaps too prevalent for his liking, it also wasn’€t the reason for Pineda’€s effectiveness.

‘€œIf you need it for grip purpose, as a hitter, do what you’ve got to do on that mound to have a better grip. Everybody does it,’€ the outfielder said. ‘€œSo it’€s not like, as I said, last night was a little obvious, a little overboard. Was that why he did what he did on the mound? Hell, no. Pineda was good.

‘€œI do it all the time from the outfield. When I throw it in I bounce it. Why? Because I want my pitcher to have a scuff on the ball. So when I throw it in from the outfield, I bounce it. There’€s all kinds of ways to do it. Throwing between innings, catcher throws it down, it short-hops, all right, that ball’s scuffed. There’€s so many ways ‘€¦ Throw the ball every time in the dirt, if you want to go that badly. ‘€¦What happened last night was because it got so blatant. It was too obvious.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell also re-emphasized prior to Friday night’€s game that he might have drawn attention to the substance, but by the time he had come to realize it’€s presence Pineda had removed it from the palm of his pitching hand.

In other news, Farrell noted the both Victorino (hamstring) and Will Middlebrooks (calf) would be re-evaluated after the Red Sox’ series in Chicago against the White Sox, with Victorino progressing a bit ahead of the third baseman. At that point the outfielder could be ready for a minor league rehab outing.

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Ben Cherington on D&C: John Lackey likely ‘going to keep pitching past 2015’ 04.10.14 at 10:30 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to discuss the beginning of the season and pitching contracts. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

After saying during the spring that they were turning the page on last year, the Red Sox have gone 4-5 during the first two weeks of the 2014 season.

“I think doing it is a little more difficult than saying it,” Cherington said. “I think we’re in the process of doing it. We’ve had a couple of reminders early in the season, reminders of last year — obviously great reminders and good reasons to be reminded.

“I think once we get into a normal routine, and this road trip might represent that normal routine, we’ll see if the team is more fully turning the page.”

Veteran pitcher John Lackey has won two of those games, but, due to a stipulation in his contract, Lackey is set to make the league minimum during the 2015 season.

“John’s one of the most accountable, reliable guys in our clubhouse,” Cherington said. “And one of the things, even when things weren’t going as well for him in Boston, he was always one of the most reliable guys. … He already has a high degree of accountability, and I think he understands the contract he signed.

“It’s also clear the way he’s throwing right now that in all likelihood he’€™s going to keep pitching past 2015, so he’s got a lot of reasons to keep pitching. He certainly looks more than capable of pitching for a while, and he’s got the kind of body and delivery and command. He’s the type of guy that could pitch for a while longer if he wants to, so it is a bit of an unusual situation, but it was part of the contract that was agreed to, and I think the way it looks like right now, we would all expect for John to sign another contract at some point and continue through 2015.”

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Wednesday’s pregame notes: Red Sox contemplating outfield of Jackie Bradley Jr., Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino 04.09.14 at 3:20 pm ET
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Grady Sizemore could move to left field once Shane Victorino is activated. (AP)

Grady Sizemore could move to left field once Shane Victorino is activated. (AP)

Once Shane Victorino works his way back from a hamstring injury (and a case of the flu), the Red Sox outfield may get a little crowded. Both Jackie Bradley Jr. and Grady Sizemore have been playing well, and manager John Farrell said that the Red Sox are contemplating scenarios that would feature all three of those outfielders once Victorino is activated, given the possibility boost such a grouping would have on the team’s run prevention.

“All of those alignments are thought of,” said Farrell. “How we get to that point remains to be seen with roster adjustments. The one thing that continues to bear out is the outfield defense and placing a premium on that.”

An alignment of Bradley, Sizemore and Victorino would undoubtedly give the Red Sox one of the defensive outfields in the league, but carrying all three would require some roster shuffling, with Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp all part of the outfield mix. If Bradley and Sizemore remain in the big leagues when Victorino is activated, the Sox will likely have to make a move to clear one of those other three outfielders off the 25-man roster.

For more on the Sox’ incentive to feature a Sizemore/Bradley/Victorino alignment, click here.

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Buster Olney on M&M: Red Sox believe Jackie Bradley Jr. could be ‘best defensive center fielder in the American League’ at 1:54 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN MLB insider Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Red Sox outfield, Jackie Bradley Jr. and how the Red Sox view him, if Stephen Drew could still return and if A.J. Pierzynski is at risk of losing his job. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With so many moving parts in the outfield, following Jacoby Ellsbury‘€™s departure to the Yankees, the Red Sox already have seen a variety of lineups there. For Olney, he could see the Red Sox going with Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino (once healthy) and Grady Sizemore.

“They definitely wanted to develop Jackie Bradley Jr. and they believe he is, if not the best defensive center fielder in the American League, they think he could be,”€ Olney said. “They want to get him established. Shane Victorino, has probably played right field better than any Red Sox player since Dwight Evans. Then you put Grady in left and you potentially have a shutdown outfield. I think the biggest question at that time was of course whether Grady was going to hold up, and I think that’€™s going to be a question all season.”

Bradley had a rough spring training, batting .158 and striking out 17 times, losing the starting job to Sizemore. However, because of injuries to Victorino, Bradley quickly got an opportunity again, batting .400 in 20 at-bats. Olney knows that the Red Sox were always confident in Bradley.

“A lot of the doubts that were reflected were in the media based on his performance,”€ Olney said. “€œI know that when you talked to the Red Sox during the winter time about what their plans were, and this is before Grady came into the equation in any serious way, their feeling was like, ‘Look, Jackie Bradley Jr.’€™s got a ton of talent and he’€™s going to do what we like and that’€™s get on base and play great defense at that position.’ I talked to evaluators with other teams during spring training leading up to those two broadcasts we did and they talked about how they thought that Jackie’€™s confidence was down.”

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Red Sox notes: Shane Victorino’s return slowed; no timetable for Will Middlebrooks 04.07.14 at 7:37 pm ET
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Shane Victorino (AP)

Shane Victorino is battling a hamstring injury and a sickness. (AP)

The Red Sox have felt the absence of Shane Victorino early, and the team remains uncertain about when it will get its everyday right fielder back.

Victorino, who suffered a hamstring injury in the final game of spring training that resulted in his placement on the disabled list, was further slowed in his efforts to rehab by a nasty bout of the flu last week. Illness forced him to miss the visit to the White House and continued to afflict him into the weekend.

The reigning AL Gold Glover is finally improving to the point where he’s been able to commence exercise, but there’s a good chance that he’ll still be resuming the earliest stages of his return to baseball activities at the end of the coming week. That being the case, his return to the active roster appears likely to have been slowed by his illness.

“He was in earlier today for treatment, so the flu symptoms, those are slowing. … He’s started to do some cardio work, so we’re starting to get some physical activity back in the mix, but that’€™s been delayed because of how he’s felt from the flu,” said manager John Farrell. “We’re still trying to keep him away from everyone else for obvious reasons, but as we get through this week or toward the end of this week and not just the treatment but also the activity starts to ramp up, we’ll get a better read on a projected time for a rehab assignment.”

Meanwhile, there is no timetable yet for Will Middlebrooks‘ return as he continues to let his strained calf heal. While Farrell said the third baseman’s discomfort had diminished since he was placed on the disabled list on Sunday, it will be some time before he does anything more than receive treatment for the injured area.

OTHER NOTES

Farrell said that there were no concerns about Clay Buchholz‘s health in the aftermath of his poor outing on Saturday. Farrell said the issue was one of location rather than health.

– Farrell characterized shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ defense to date as being “probably a little bit more than we anticipated, and that’€™s not to say we had lower expectations of him. There was a ball yesterday that he gets caught a little bit in that five-six hole, went at it with his forehand when he probably could have planted and gone to the backhand. The range has been good. I think he’s playing very well.”

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