Victorino, Middlebrooks nearing return to Sox

Victorino, Middlebrooks nearing return to Sox

BOSTON -- Within the next week, the Red Sox could have their entire starting nine together for the first time this season.

Right fielder Shane Victorino, who took Sunday off after opening his rehab assignment on Saturday, will continue for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday and Tuesday.

Victorino could be back in Boston's lineup as soon as Wednesday, for the middle game of a three-game series against the Yankees.

Third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who has been down since April 5 with a right calf strain, will start his assignment for Pawtucket on Monday. He will take Tuesday off and then play again on Wednesday and Thursday. Middlebrooks could be back in Boston's lineup by Friday in Toronto.

Most recently, Middlebrooks had been sidelined with the flu. But he was able to get in a good workout on Sunday.

The return of Victorino will create a tough roster decision, considering the logjam in the outfield. One possibility would be optioning Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Pawtucket. Otherwise, a move would have to be made involving Mike Carp or Daniel Nava.

"Those [discussions] have been ongoing," said manager John Farrell. "Those talks aren't going to initiate when [Victorino's] deemed ready to come back to us. We've looked at every available combination of outfielders that are here with us, and ultimately there will be a roster decision made. We'll get to that in the coming week."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.