PAWTUCKET, RI -- It's been "brutal," Shane Victorino said.
On the disabled list since May 24 with nagging hamstring and back ailments, he's been forced to watch helplessly as his teammates slide to the bottom of the American League East.
"That's what's been frustrating for me is not being able to figure out or not being able to get back out there, stay healthy and be with those guys," he said. "That's what's been frustrating. I've told everybody I'm the biggest culprit to see where we are in the standings. I'm not out there to help. If I was out there to help, I'd feel better to see where we're at. But I feel worse because I'm not out there and I can't help them in any way being injured."
Victorino is taking positive steps toward a return, tentative though they may be. He started in right field and hit second for the PawSox in a game against the Buffalo Bisons on Thursday. The plan was for him to get three at-bats in the game.
Because of a three-day Triple-A all-star break, it's his first game action since Sunday. He didn't hit during his three days off, but he did continue a workout program that focused on his conditioning.
Victorino said before the game that "this is probably the best I've ever felt in regards to continuous work, workload, in regards to cardio in regards to how my body feels. That's a happy place for me is knowing that I got to take these three days off, not knowing how I was going to come back, come back, and feel better than I actually did before I left. So that's a positive start for me."
How long will it be before he's ready to make a return? He said he needs to work his way up to playing nine innings for the PawSox before he thinks about getting back to Boston. Red Sox manager John Farrell has expressed hope that Victorino may be able to get to the big leagues for this weekend's series with the Royals, but Victorino was reluctant to put a timetable on his return.
"It seems like every time we set out a number or a timetable there's always been a setback," he said. "For me, I'm not going to put a timetable on anything. I'm gonna go up there tonight, take one at-bat at a time, one game at a time, and we'll see how my body feels."
Victorino was asked if he thinks his aggressive playing style -- especially in the outfield where he's been willing to run into a wall for an out -- has contributed to the injuries he's experienced in recent years.
He wouldn't say yes, and he wouldn't say no. Regardless of the potential harmful effects of playing the way he has, he insisted that he wouldn't change.
"Everybody's always said that," he said. "That's been asked a lot. 'Is this the way you've played the game? You think that's the reason why things are catching up to you?' I never want to say yes. I've played this way since I was probably five years old. The second I could pick up a ball and play, I've always been taught that way and I've always played hard.
"I've always had bigger brothers so I had to figure out how to be and play with those guys and play with their friends who were five years older than me. So you have to find a way to be tough, find a way to be strong. Could you say that this is something that's happened with years of buildup and it's finally catching up for me> I don't want to see it that way. I never want to look at it that way.
" 'What about when you get back about toning your game down or not playing as hard?' The second I do that I might as well not play. I might as well not show up to the bp everyday because that's not who I am. I'm going to go out there, I'm going to give 100 percent whenver I get back, 100 percent of whatever I have."