CHICAGO -- Delayed a bit by the inclement New England weather, Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino is expected to start his Minor League rehab assignment by Friday or Saturday, said manager John Farrell.
Triple-A Pawtucket opens a homestand on Friday that lasts for a week.
Sidelined with a right hamstring strain, Victorino will need either three or four games in the Minors, which means he could be back in Boston's starting lineup by the end of the upcoming homestand.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has been crushing the baseball in batting practice, should be cleared to start his rehab assignment within the next week. Middlebrooks is recovering from a right calf strain.
"The one thing that he hasn't attempted or been asked to attempt is just the acceleration inside of running," said Farrell. "It's more even-paced. That first step quickness and the building up to sprinting will be that one last step before we send him out."
Pedroia back in lineup; Napoli unsure when he'll return
CHICAGO -- In that carousel known as the Red Sox's walking wounded, Dustin Pedroia returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday night and hit in the leadoff spot while Mike Napoli was out of action for the first time this season with a dislocated left ring finger.
Pedroia had been sidelined with inflammation in his left wrist for the past two games, but he actually came off the bench Tuesday to pinch-run for the injured Napoli.
With the Red Sox out of players, Pedroia even played an inning of defense in the bottom of the ninth, in preparation for Wednesday's return to action.
"I feel good," said Pedroia. "I only missed a game and a half. It's a lot better than what it could be."
Over the next few days, Pedroia will just try to be as smart as he can so that the wrist can fully recover.
"It was just sore for a week or something," said Pedroia. "I got the shot to calm everything down. It feels good today. I have to limit my swings in the cage and things like that. Once the game starts, I'm normal."
As for Napoli, his injury is also much better than it could have been. When the first baseman bent his finger all the way back on a headfirst dive, there was fear that he had suffered a break, which would have sidelined him for at least a month.
"I'm definitely tender, which was probably expected from what I did to it," said Napoli. "As I'm doing treatment and contrast [between ice and heat] and trying to get that swelling out of there, it's feeling better and better as I go. I'm going to do as much treatment on it as possible and probably contrast [between ice and heat] every couple of hours."
Napoli expects to be back in the lineup soon -- he just isn't sure exactly when.
"I don't know," said Napoli. "We'll see. Just go day to day to see how I'm feeling that day to see what I can do. I'm going to go play catch and maybe I can have some late-inning defense or something. Just baby steps, just trying to see what I can do and whatever I can do, I'm going to do to try to help the team."
Colbrunn backs approach, says bats will break out
CHICAGO -- In recent years, the Red Sox have typically been one of the top offenses in the Majors. But they've started this year struggling to find their way at the plate, particularly with men in scoring position.
Entering Wednesday's game against the White Sox, Boston had a .194 average with runners in scoring position, which ranked 26th in the Majors.
However, hitting coach Greg Colbrunn doesn't see anything fundamentally wrong with his hitters.
"The process, the approach, is pretty much the same," said Colbrunn. "You see guys pressing a little bit, but that's to be expected. As far as the approach goes and guys grinding away at-bats and not giving away at-bats, the effort is there. Guys are working hard and working on all the right things. There are good signs."
Colbrunn just thinks this is a stretch every time will go through during the season. The Red Sox just happen to be starting their season in that type of funk.
"So it gets magnified," Colbrunn said.
What does Colbrunn during a stretch like this?
"Trust them," said Colbrunn. "We have good hitters. They're gonna hit, eventually. A couple of them fall here or there, we're right back where we need to be."
Manager John Farrell remembers a similar stretch last season, which ended with a World Series championship.
"There was a 12-14 game stretch where our bottom line was similar to where they are now," Farrell said. "Things are magnified a little more at this point in the season. I think at times we've been too overaggressive with runners in scoring position, where we haven't taken the same approach toward building an inning when we're trying to drive a run in. So that's led to some early swings, the expansion of the strike zone, at times even border-line forcing the issue a little bit."
• Closer Koji Uehara fired a 34-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday and will be available to pitch on Thursday night.
"Good work today," said Farrell. "Normal long toss, flat-ground. A 34-pitch [bullpen session]. He felt good coming out of it physically, and with each throwing session, he gains confidence with how he feels physically, so we would expect him to be available tomorrow night."
• As he expected, Farrell received a fine from Major League Baseball for arguing a call that had been under review and criticizing the instant replay system to the media.
"Well, I've only received one notice on my comments, so I don't know if there's another one coming. It's like having multiple policies with the same insurance company. Do you get a renter's insurance discount?" quipped Farrell.
• Mike Carp, who thrived off the bench for the Red Sox last season, is having a hard time getting untracked in the same role. The left-handed hitter is 3-for-14 overall and 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as a pinch-hitter.
"I don't know that we ever predict production that's going to take place, even if it's a starting guy," Farrell said. "The one thing he does do a great job at is staying ready in the moment and thinking the game along for opportunities that get his name called. His work and his preparation is consistent with a year ago. The outcome, that's the unknown."