BALTIMORE -- The Red Sox have good news on the injury front. Third baseman Will Middlebrooks will open a Minor League rehab assignment for Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, and the club is "hopeful" that right fielder Shane Victorino will join him at some point this weekend.
Middlebrooks has been out since May 17 with a fractured right index finger. And Victorino, an invaluable performer last season, is in the midst of his second stint on the disabled list due to a right hamstring strain.
Given Boston's paltry offensive production in the outfield, Victorino's return in particularly could be significant.
"The last couple of days have been encouraging," said manager John Farrell. "Things have ramped up quite a bit. Like I said, hopefully some time on the weekend, he initiates a rehab assignment."
The Red Sox will need to determine a role for Middlebrooks when he returns, now that shortstop Stephen Drew is back with the club and Xander Bogaerts has moved to third.
"He took BP yesterday," said Farrell. "He's going to DH on Friday initially. He swung the bat, at least in a BP session, very well. We're still working to get full range of motion and I'm sure there will be some exam on that finger just to make sure that once he initiates a throwing program more in earnest, there's not going to be any pushback from it."
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.