Back better, Victorino slated to return Friday

Back better, Victorino slated to return Friday

TORONTO -- Shane Victorino missed his seventh consecutive game Thursday, but he should be ready to return to the Red Sox's lineup vs. the Rangers on Friday in a clash featuring two first-place teams.

The right fielder, who is dealing with lower back stiffness, is available as a pinch-hitter on Thursday, if needed, after taking batting practice for the first time since the injury.

Over the week, Victorino gradually worked himself up from hitting off a tee, taking soft toss and doing cage work before Thursday's batting practice session, which manager John Farrell said was the final hurdle he needed to pass.

"He came out of it feeling well and tried to talk his way into the lineup today," Farrell said. "Everything points to him being back in the lineup [Friday] in Texas."

Farrell complimented the work that Jonny Gomes and Mike Carp have done during Victorino's absence. Carp has hit two homers during Boston's series in Toronto and Gomes has gone deep once.

"But getting Shane back will be a boost for us," Farrell said.

The Red Sox took a cautious approach with Victorino, as he experienced some slight pains throughout the week when making certain movements. In 19 games, Victorino is batting .292 with a .358 on-base percentage in his first season with Boston.

Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.