Shane Victorino is finally close to rejoining the Red Sox

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Shane Victorino landed on the disabled list in May after he aggravated a right hamstring strain and suffered a setback in June due to a back issue, but he’s finally close to rejoining the Red Sox.

After playing three games with Class A Lowell over the past week, Victorino moved his minor league rehab assignment up to Triple-A Pawtucket tonight. Batting second and playing right field, he went 2-for-4 with two singles and two runs scored while playing all nine innings. Red Sox manager John Farrell told Steven Patrella of MLB.com earlier this evening wants him to play back-to-back games before being activated, so it’s feasible that he could make his long-awaited return this weekend if all goes well.

“Ideally, we see him play back-to-back games before we would activate him,” Farrell said Thursday. “So how he comes through tonight has a lot of bearing on that. And ideally he’s back in the lineup tomorrow.”

After being an important part of Boston’s World Series run last year, Victorino has only appeared in 21 games this season while batting just .242/.276/.352 over 99 plate appearances.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle 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.