Red Sox not rushing Victorino back into lineup

Red Sox not rushing Victorino back into lineup

ST. PETERSBURG -- Though Shane Victorino's right hamstring felt better on Thursday, the Red Sox will be careful not to rush the right fielder back into game action.

And with Allen Craig, Daniel Nava and Brock Holt all available off the bench, there's no reason to.

"Before we get him back into a game, we'll get him through some running," said manager John Farrell. "He'll do some change in direction, some explosive work, just to test it out. He came into today feeling better than anticipated, but still day to day."

Victorino sustained the injury stealing a base in Wednesday's game.

"His style of play and body type are going to lend to an aggressive style of play, but one where he might feel it physically," Farrell said. "And we just have to monitor it and hope to avoid some of the major setbacks along the way."

In 2013 and '14, Victorino had his share of hamstring ailments. But this is the first time he's dealt with it since undergoing back surgery last August.

"We don't want to take away the strengths he has as a player," Farrell said. "I think through the past couple years, he's gained a better understanding of what the limits are and how to push him. But he's wired a certain way and that's what's made him so successful his entire career. So there's a fine line and somewhat of a balance to the overall approach."

"No idea. Hopefully, sooner than later," said Victorino when asked when he'd play again. "I'm hopeful. Hopefully this weekend, that's my goal. The medical side, they're taking it a little slow, but I have to progressively get back to full speed again."

Craig started in left field on Thursday, as Hanley Ramirez got a night off to rest his legs. Nava made the start in right.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.