The Red Sox got a bit of good news on Wednesday, when Rusney Castillo was activated from the minor-league disabled list. Before you go and pencil him into Boston's lineup, though, know that Red Sox manager John Farrell thinks Castillo needs "significant" at-bats in Triple-A before it's time to join the big-league squad.
Of course, "no plans" to send him to Boston soon and "significant" playing time are pretty vague terms that the Sox can pretend they never uttered if they have to. Castillo hit in the Double-A playoffs last year, he hit for the Red Sox to close out 2014, he hit in spring training, and -- you guessed it -- he also hit in his limited start to the season at Triple-A before a shoulder injury sent him to the DL. He's a plus defender who is mostly in the minors to get some familiarity with right field -- Castillo is traditionally a center fielder -- and because Boston's outfield needed to send someone down, and it wasn't going to be free agent Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts, or a healthy Shane Victorino.
And that last part is kind of the rub. Victorino hasn't played like someone who is healthy, and now he's on the DL, which, in case you have forgotten, is where the players who are actively unhealthy go. So, "no plans" sounds good and all in terms of John Farrell not having to get a call from Shane Victorino later asking why he's lost his job while he's on the DL, but in reality, "no plans" just means the Sox can say their hand was forced and they had to go off-script when they finally do call up Castillo to take over in right.
The plan to start the season with Victorino still makes sense -- it was going to be difficult to trade him coming off of back surgery, and if he was feeling good, he still had the chance of being a tremendous asset. If he doesn't come back healthy and productive, though, and Castillo just keeps on hitting, then the Sox are going to have to finish making a decision, one they began last August when they signed Castillo in the first place.