Craig getting more starts in left with Hanley out

Craig getting more starts in left with Hanley out

BOSTON -- While there is still no return date on when Hanley Ramirez (left shoulder sprain) will return to the lineup, Red Sox manager John Farrell is giving Allen Craig the opportunity to hold down left field in the interim.

"Giving him a chance to run with it," said Farrell. "This is someone that's handled right-handed pitching in the past as well. The guy on the mound today is a reverse guy as far as numbers go. There's been some quality at-bats the last couple of nights from Allen and we're trying to take advantage of the opportunity with everyday play for him."

In the seventh inning of the Red Sox's 5-3 loss to the Rays on Wednesday, Craig made a diving catch to rob Joey Butler of a potential hit.

That means that Daniel Nava will continue to be used mainly as a reserve while Brock Holt makes the bulk of starts in right field until Shane Victorino (right hamstring) returns.

Victorino will play for Double-A Portland on Friday and Saturday at a minimum, and Farrell hopes the right fielder will start the first two games in Oakland on Monday and Tuesday against lefties Scott Kazmir and Drew Pomeranz.

As for Ramirez, he continues to show improvement.

"He continues to improve with range of motion," Farrell said. "Tomorrow's not an unrealistic possibility that he could begin to swing a bat with some dry swings. We're not clear yet on what a potential return to full baseball activity, let alone a game, is yet. Improvement, but still day to day."

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.