A month into the 2013 season, the Boston Red Sox have shown that they have put their underwhelming 2012 campaign behind them.
A 20-8 record gives Boston the best record in baseball, as well as a 2.5-game lead in the AL East over the second-place New York Yankees.
Part of the success Boston has enjoyed can be attributed to the lack of injuries to key members of the team thus far.
Earlier in the season, the club suffered through the absences of star designated hitter David Ortiz, reliever Joel Hanrahan and starting pitching John Lackey.
Despite those returns, Red Sox fans are still anticipating returns from missing contributors, like outfielder Shane Victorino and pitcher Franklin Morales. Let's check in on the latest news on some of the organization's major injuries.
Shane Victorino, OF: Day-To-Day
Right-fielder Shane Victorino has been sidelined with a lower back injury for the past couple weeks. He originally injured his back during an April 20 game against the Kansas City Royals and returned two days later. He played three games before making an early exit in an April 24 game against the Oakland Athletics.
During their recent three-game series in Toronto, the Red Sox made sure Victorino was all right to return. The 32-year-old Victorino was hitting off a tee during Thursday's batting practice at Rogers Centre, which was the last step he needed to make before his return.
"He came out of it feeling well and tried to talk his way into the lineup today. Everything points to him being back in the lineup [Friday] in Texas."
It is hard to say that Victorino's addition to the lineup will improve the team, given their 5-1 record in his absence. He will, however, give the Red Sox that awesome speed combination with Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the order. They will also reap the benefits of Victorino's excellent fielding.
Franklin Morales, LHP: 15-Day DL
On March 22, Morales was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain.
The 27-year-old lefty made a rehab start with Class-A Greenville on April 17, where he pitched three scoreless innings. He was on track for a second rehab start with Double-A Portland, but was pushed back due to pain in his left pectoral muscle.
Morales traveled with the team to Toronto, during their recent series against the Blue Jays. At the Rogers Centre, Morales began a long toss program on flat ground.
Manager John Farrell spoke optimistically about Morales' progress, saying (from MassLive.com):
"He initiated the throwing program today, out to 120 feet, threw some flat ground. He's symptom-free, so we're hopeful he's on a mound when we get down to Texas."
The return of Morales will give the Red Sox a reliable left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. The sole lefty in the bullpen right now is Andrew Miller, whose seven walks in 6.1 innings and 1.89 WHIP are not cutting it.
Morales will also help bolster the back end of the Red Sox rotation. In 2012, he made nine starts, during which he compiled a 3-3 record and a 4.14 ERA. Those numbers will be welcomed for a spot starter, especially after the woeful job Alfredo Aceves did in his three starts this season.
Craig Breslow, LHP: 15-Day DL
Breslow is another left-handed pitcher who can help out with Boston's bullpen. He has missed the entire 2013 season so far, including spring training, with inflammation in his throwing shoulder.
The 32-year-old has made three rehab appearances since April 27 with Triple-A Pawtucket, tallying three strikeouts over 2.2 innings.
The Red Sox have to be happy with the progress Breslow is making. They progressed Hanrahan quickly through his rehab stint, but given the fact that he had no spring training, they may choose to give him a little more time in Pawtucket before calling him up to the major leagues.
Breslow was effective in the 23 games he pitched for Boston after the Red Sox acquired him in a midseason trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.
He averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings, to go along with a 2.70 ERA during his stint in Boston. He was especially good against lefties, holding opposing lefties to a .184 batting average.
Ryan Kalish, OF: 60-Day DL
Outfielder Ryan Kalish underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery in late January to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.
No updates have been given on the original timetable of five months. Red Sox fans should not expect Kalish to return any sooner than July.
Even if Kalish is healthy, there is no guarantee he will play in Boston. In 36 games last season, Kalish posted unimpressive numbers across the board--zero home runs, five RBI and a .229 batting average. Given the emergence of journeyman Daniel Nava, as well as the presence of veteran Jonny Gomes, Boston has little need for a Kalish's services at this time. He would provide the organization with some depth in the outfield, though.