Things didn’t look very good for the Red Sox machine three days ago. They’d been embarrassed by Terry Francona‘s running Cleveland Indians 12-3 and Boston had just sent third baseman Will Middlebrooks (back spasms) and Shane Victorino (hamstring) to the 15-day disabled list.
Pedro Ciriaco, Jose Iglesias and Alfredo Aceves were hastily called up from Pawtucket to fill the void. The machine coughed and sputtered briefly and then meshed gears as John Farrell patched together a lineup over the weekend that included Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes platooning in left field while Daniel Nava slid into Victorino’s spot in right field. Iglesias played third base for the first time ever in his major league career and Ciriaco played some third while Iggy moved back to short stop to give Stephen Drew a rest. Aceves will take the mound today in a starting role to spell Clay Buchholz who was scratched from the first game against the Phillies with collabone and AC joint irritation.
Through the injury ups and downs, Boston put together a three-game win streak that has contributed to a 7-3 mark over the past 10 games, pulling them even with the Yankees in a tie for a first place in the AL East.
Middlebrooks has been progressing during his DL stint and expects to hit his June 8 timetable for return. “It’s better today than it was yesterday,” Middlebrooks said after Boston’s 7-4 victory over Cleveland on Saturday. “If I’m already making steps forward, then that’s where I want to be.”
Victorino, since injuring his back three weeks ago, has spent time in and out of Boston’s lineup and eventually, as is sometime typical with a back injury, ended up on the DL with a leg injury. After run-ins with both Fenway’s right-field fence May 12 against the Blue Jays and the right-field wall in Tampa May 16, Victorino has proven he’s the gutty player Boston hoped he would be. He’s also proven that he’s human and can’t take that kind of regular abuse over the course of a season. In short, it appears Victorino’s off switch is broken as well, which can be both good and bad.
Victorino’s move to the DL appears designed to deliberately give him the time he needs to heal from both his back and leg injuries. “I think it got to a point where each time he would start back up there would be some frustration — and understandably so,” manager John Farrell told MLB.com’s Jason Mastrodonato and Michael Periatt. “This is a guy who really wants to be on the field every day. I think it was best, peace of mind for him, and really to adjust the physical issues that he’s got.”