Shane Victorino activated from disabled list

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After getting by without him for the first 22 games of the season, the Red Sox have activated outfielder Shane Victorino from the 15-day disabled list. He’s in the starting lineup for tonight’s series finale against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

Victorino has been sidelined since late in spring training with a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring. His return was delayed due to a brief bout of the flu, but he made it through three minor league rehab games without incident.

Victorino will bat second tonight against CC Sabathia while Dustin Pedroia hits leadoff. Boston’s lineup has been in a state of flux early on this season, but Red Sox manager John Farrell told Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal this afternoon that he hopes to stick with this arrangement for the near future.

I’d like to think we’d take the current lineup and run with it for a while,” Boston manager John Farrell said. ”Hopefully with Pedey and Vic at the top of the order, the on-base will be there at a consistent rate. I think stability is what this team is in need of right now.”

Now that Daniel Nava is in the minors, the Red Sox will move ahead with a platoon of Grady Sizemore and Jonny Gomes in left field. Not surprisingly, Gomes is making the start tonight with Sabathia on the hill.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.