Victorino begins Triple-A rehab stint

July 3 earliest return date for Red Sox outfielder; Hanigan progressing at Pawtucket

Victorino begins Triple-A rehab stint

BOSTON -- For the first time in over a month, Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino took swings and played defense in a game, as he began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday night.

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Coming back from a strained left calf, Victorino logged five innings in right field as planned and went hitless at the plate, grounding out to the pitcher and to third in his two at-bats. Until this point, the 34-year-old veteran had been limited to baserunning drills and batting practice while rehabbing in Boston.

The expectation is for Victorino to continue ramping up his activity in the Minors. Although he is already eligible for activation from the 15-day disabled list, the earliest he might rejoin the Red Sox would be July 3, when the team opens an eight-game homestand against the Astros.

"He'll go back-to-back the first couple of days, just building into it," Boston manager John Farrell said. "Two and three at-bats, both for the first two nights. We've got to get him to where he's going consecutive games, nine innings each, before he comes back to us.

"That wouldn't be on this upcoming road trip."

Catcher Ryan Hanigan, also on a rehab assignment as he works to return from a fractured right hand, did not start Wednesday. Farrell said the organization plans to have him catch another game for Pawtucket on Thursday and possibly Friday before eventually sending him over to Double-A Portland.

Whether Victorino joins him is up in the air.

"That's to be determined," Farrell said. "They're both with Pawtucket through Friday. At that point, we'll determine where the location will be."

Worth noting

• Pawtucket left-hander Brian Johnson, the organization's No. 6 prospect according to MLB.com, left during the seventh inning of Wednesday night's start after he ran into a baserunner while covering first on a grounder. He allowed an unearned run and fanned seven over 6 2/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.57. After the game, Johnson told the Providence Journal that he was fine.

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.