ST. PETERSBURG -- After laying down a sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning on Wednesday that helped lead the Red Sox to a 7-3 victory over the Rays, Shane Victorino went straight to the clubhouse, leading some to speculate that he might be coming out of the game.
Victorino, who has managed nagging injuries all season, did manage to stay in the game. However, manager John Farrell gave him a rest for Thursday's finale of this seven-game road trip.
"Talking to guys here, this turf is very difficult," said Farrell. "It's much more soft. They feel it differently. You have to be conscious of either lower back or hip, but it wasn't his hamstring. I think he just felt a little tightness overall, and the way he ran back, you could see something wasn't 100 percent. Just [a chance] to get him off his feet."
Will Middlebrooks also got the night off, and Xander Bogaerts made his first start since belting a prodigious home run five days ago at Yankee Stadium.
The one benefit the Red Sox have with their commanding lead in the standings is to make sure nobody gets overly taxed down the stretch. Having productive reserves like Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, Bogaerts and David Ross makes that even easier.
"It starts with good players, and we're able to manage their playing time, because we have depth that we can go to and not have a huge drop-off in capability and performance," said Farrell. "That's the reason why, in September, we're trending up in terms of offensive performance. We've been able to keep guys fresh. In a day and age where the drugs are cleaned up, rest is that much more important, and depth of roster becomes that much more valuable."
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.