Notes: Middlebrooks expected to return Friday

Notes: Middlebrooks expected to return Friday
April 24, 2014, 7:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

Shane Victorino was activated for Thursday night's game with the Yankees.

On Friday, the Sox expect Will Middlebrooks (calf) to be activated .

That means that Friday at Rogers Centre will mark the first time in 24 games that the Sox have had their regular lineup available to them.

"I think that's the one thing - the continuity and some stability with the names we anticipated breaking camp with,'' said John Farrell, "and 3 1/2 weeks into the season, we're finally getting there.''

The Sox have had their share of injuries early in the season, but so have other teams and Farrell wasn't about to bemoan his team's misfortune.

"You deal with what you have in the moment,'' said Farrell. "Knowing that players are going to come back to you, that's always a positive outlook. But we don't make excuses because some guys have been injured or there's been some performances that's been a little bit less than (expected). We're setting out to complete every single night and sometimes that hasn't always been the case.''

Middlebrooks, who had a calf strain and completed his rehab assignment at Pawtucket Thursday "swung the bat better (Thursday)...and came out of it physically fine.''

With Middlebrooks about to return to the roster, the Sox will have to move an infielder. The choice will come down to either Brock Holt or Jonathan Herrera.

Both have options and can be sent to Pawtucket without first being exposed to waivers.

Holt was hitting .400 in six games, while Herrera was at just .214. Herrera is the better defender with more experience at shortstop, and is a switch-hitter. Holt, lefthanded, has been more consistent at the plate.

"When he came to us,'' said Farrell of Holt, "we hoped he would spark the bottom third of the order and he's done exactly that.''

There is some internal debate over which player to retain.

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Farrell made sure to praise the work of John Lackey, whose effort Wednesday night was overshadowed by the pine tar incident with Michael Pineda.

"The story last night was John Lackey,'' said Farrell, "arguably the best game he's pitched in a Red Sox uniform and that includes all the postseason last year. He was dominant (Wednesday) night - a high percentage of strikes, stayed out of the middle of the plate and particuhlarly at a time when we needed a starter  to go deep and give the bullpen a rest, turn out short-term results around, he was very good.

"He maintained stuff throughout.''

Farrell noted that, with the workload of the bullpen in the previous week, the Sox were in desperate need of some length from their starter and Lackey answered the call.

"I think starters have a sense of what's gone on the previous three or four games,'' Farrell, "and when they've got to work deep into a game and find a way to get there. We needed it and he gave it to us.''