BOSTON – Right-hander John Lackey is expected to be activated from the disabled list to make his second start of the season on Sunday. On April 6 in Toronto, in his only start this season – and first since Tommy John surgery after the 2011 season -- Lackey walked off the mound after his 76th pitch clutching his surgically repaired right elbow. Rather than the dire situation it initially appeared to be, Lackey was diagnosed with a right biceps strain, from which he appears to be fully recovered.
Lackey made one rehab start, going 3 2/3 scoreless innings on Monday for Double-A Portland. He gave up three hits and two walks with five strikeouts.
“Based on the game pitched and the bullpen that followed [on Thursday], there’s been no symptoms that have recurred,” said manager John Farrell. “The fact is when he felt it up in Toronto I think it was just getting to an arm speed and a velocity that he hasn’t experienced in probably two years.”
On April 6, Lackey went 4 1/3 innings, taking the loss, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts. How much the Sox can expect from him Sunday remains to be seen. But it will likely be close to his two outings, including his rehab start, so far this season.
“We’ve got an idea with a certain pitch range that he’ll approach at some point and that’ll be the end of it for the day,” Farrell said. “The fact that he’s gotten up and down four times his last outing, [and] he was up and down into the fifth outing his first outing, that’s kind of the range we’re looking at going into tomorrow. But the stress of each of the pitches thrown is going to have some impact on the decision, how deep he can go in tomorrow’s game.”
* Shane Victorino is not in the lineup again for Saturday night’s game against the Astros. Low back soreness has kept him sidelined for four of the last seven games. Farrell said Victorino has shown “slight” improvement but is “questionable” for Sunday.
“He’s undergoing continued treatment from the medical staff, some oral medication, questionable for tomorrow,” Farrell said. “And if there’s no real significant improvement today, we’ll probably take advantage of tomorrow and the off-day [Monday], as well, to try to get ahead of this.”
There is a possibility Victorino may require a DL stint.
“We’ll probably have to get through the next couple of days to see where his improvement is, how close he might be to returning,” Farrell said. “So all those things will probably become more in to light over the next 48 hours.”
The Sox will also take into the consideration the turf field in Toronto, which Farrell said is not as forgiving as the turf at Tropicana Field in Tamp Bay.
“It’s not as spongy as the turf in Tampa because of its multi-purpose use in that building,” Farrell said. “It’s rolled up frequently so that ground-up rubber is really packed down hard. And it’s relatively hard turf.”
* Right-hander Joel Hanrahan began a rehab assignment Friday night, pitching one inning for Triple-A Pawtucket. He gave up two runs on two hits, including a home run, with one strikeout. He threw 14 pitches, nine strikes.
“He came out of yesterday fine,” Farrell said. “He may have felt a slight twinge on one pitch. But didn’t have any effect after that. I think the most important thing is he feels good today and he got through the inning of work last night. But with anyone time down, there’s going to be the need for some reproit8ion to sharpen up.”
Hanrahan is expected to pitch another inning for Pawtucket on Sunday. Provided there are no issues, he will likely join the Sox for their six-game road trip beginning Tuesday.
* Left-hander Craig Breslow, who has been on the DL since the start of the season with left shoulder tendinitis, is expected to continue his rehab assignment with Pawtucket tonight, making another appearance on Sunday. He began his rehab assignment with a start for Portland on Tuesday. He faced four batters but could not record an out.
* Left-hander Franklin Morales, who has been in the DL since the start of the season with a low back strain, has been shut down on his rehab program since Thursday because of left pectoral muscle strain.
* Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was called up Thursday to take the roster spot of Alfredo Aceves, will likely be returned to Pawtucket – barring anything unforeseen – when Lackey is activated.
* Mike Napoli leads the majors with 27 RBI, 18 extra-base hits, and 13 doubles. He has established new team records for doubles and extra-base hits in April.
* Sox relievers have allowed just four of 24 inherited runners to score, a major league-best 16.7 percent.
* The Sox are 12-0 when scoring first this season. They and the Yankees are the only teams without a loss when they score first. Since at least 1915, this is the first time the Sox have ever gone 12-0 when scoring first.