Red Sox activate Shane Victorino from disabled list; option Mookie Betts to Triple-A

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Shane Victorino has been activated from the 15-day disabled list and will bat sixth and play right field in his return tonight against the Royals. The Red Sox have optioned Mookie Betts back to Triple-A Pawtucket in a corresponding roster move.

Victorino hasn’t played in the majors since he aggravated a right hamstring strain on May 23. The 33-year-old had multiple setbacks during his rehab, including an issue with his back, but he played three games with Class A Lowell prior to the All-Star break and back-to-back games with Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday and Friday. Limited to just 21 games this season, Victorino is batting just .242/.276/.352 with one home run, 10 RBI, and two stolen bases.

Betts is the odd-man out now that Victorino is healthy. The 21-year-old batted .235 (8-for-34) with one home run and two doubles in his first taste of the majors and is better off playing everyday in Triple-A for now. He doesn’t figure to be down in the minors for long, especially if the Red Sox move players like Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.