TORONTO -- It appears the Red Sox' patience with Shane Victorino and his lower back stiffness has paid off.
Victorino took early batting practice Thursday afternoon and while he was unable to talk his way into the lineup for the final game against the Blue Jays in Toronto, he was available to come off the bench, with an eye toward returning to the lineup Friday night in Texas.
"He came out of it feeling well,'' said John Farrell. "We're holding him out but he's available tonight, so if a game situation calls for it, he is available. Everything points towards him being back in the lineup tomorrow in Texas.''
Farrell is set to welcome Victorino's return, but noted that the Sox have survived nicely without him, going 5-1 in the six games he's been out of the lineup.
"In his absence, we've gotten very good production from Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes,'' he said, "and it's provided additional at-bats to those two guys to get some regular playing time and kind of get back in the flow of things, coming out of spring training and some sporadic work.
"I always try to look at the silver lining to it. But getting Shane back will be a boost for us, for sure.''
-- David Ortiz got the night off, which had been part of the plan before the series. It enabled Ortiz to get off the hard artificial surface at Rogers Centre and also allow the Sox to get Mike Napoli -- who handled DH duties Thursday night -- off his feet for a night as well.
"We came into the series knowing with the Astroturf, we'd look at two of the three games here for (Ortiz),'' said Farrell. "So today was a planned down day for him. It's not additional soreness, it's more like, 'Hey, let's be careful on this and keep moving on.' ''
With Napoli as the DH, the Sox had Mike Carp at first.
Carp was hitting .480 with two homers and seven RBI and a 1.080 slugging percentage. Carp didn't get a sart in any of the first 12 games, but has since appearned in 12 of the last 16 games, including seven starts.
-- David Ross was behind the plate for the second straight game, the first time this season he's caught back-to-back games this season.
Farrell said the impetus was the string of lefties the Sox are facing. They had Mark Buehrle Wednesday night, J.A. Happ Thursday and Derek Holland Friday night in Texas.
"It's not that we're in a strict platoon situation,'' said Farrell. "But we're trying to match up guys as best as possible.''
-- Lefty Craig Breslow (shoulder) was due to make a relief appearance for Pawtucket Thursday night, with the plan to have him pitch another inning either Saturday or Sunday.
It's possible Breslow could be activated by Monday when the Sox return home for a homestand.
Meanwhile, Franklin Morales (pectoral muscle), who long-tossed from a distance of 130 feet Thursday, will throw a bullpen of about 30 pitches this weekend in Texas.
"He's likely to need a couple of those before we look to slot him on a rehab assignment,'' said Farrell. "But where he was six days ago, he's dramatically improved today.''