Shane Victorino to begin minor league rehab assignment Saturday

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Shane Victorino was placed on the disabled list at the end of spring training with a left hamstring strain and had his return briefly delayed due to a bout of the flu, but he’s finally getting closer to making his season debut.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that Victorino will begin a minor league rehab assignment Saturday, likely with Triple-A Pawtucket. He’ll then get the day off Sunday before playing back-to-back games on Monday and Tuesday. Barring any setbacks, he could be activated for next Thursday’s game against the Yankees.

With Victorino on the verge of returning, things are fixing to get very interesting in Boston’s outfield. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was originally expected to be sent down, but he has been playing center field on a daily basis recently while Grady Sizemore has been getting exposure in left field. Mike Carp could be the odd man out here, but the Red Sox would have to expose him to waivers if he’s removed from the active roster, which means they’d almost certainly lose him. It’s a tough call.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.