Shane Victorino was activated from the disabled list on Saturday and will be in the Red Sox lineup against the Royals.
The Gold Glove right fielder has played just 21 games this season with hamstring and back issues sending sidelining him for the bulk of the first half.
“Any time we get Vic back in our lineup, it’s going to give us a boost,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “That’s not to short change anyone else that’s here or has been here but Vic’s defense in right field has been well-documented on how well he plays it, the energy he brings, the intelligence on the basepaths.”
Victorino landed on the DL May 24 with a strained hamstring and then suffered a setback during his rehab assignment in June with back issues. Coming out of the all-star break, he played consecutive games from the Paw Sox, showing all signs that he was fully healthy.
While he hopes to have Victorino in the lineup five nights a week, Farrell said he will be cautious, especially with the Sox heading to Toronto on Monday where the artificial playing surface can take a toll.
“The thing that we’ll continue to balance going forward is how many days will he play initially and monitor that day-in and day-out,” Farrell said.
To make room for Victorino, the Sox sent rising prospect Mookie Betts back to Triple A Pawtucket. He was called up to Boston on June 28, not long after Victorino received an epidural injection in his lower back.
“Mookie’s timeline sped up when Vic had a setback,” Farrell said. “So Mookie needs every day at-bats and with Vic coming back, this was the move to be made, it was clear.”
Betts played 10 games and hit .235, while playing both right and center field.
“I thought he managed his at-bats well,” Farrell said. “I thought he showed very good presence or at least composure for a guy who’s flown through our system.
“He’s a work in progress defensively, particularly in the outfield and he’ll continue to get exposure in center and in right field in Pawtucket while also playing some second base. So that’s the plan for him going forward defensively.”
Farrell said he intended to keep Brock Holt in the leadoff spot at least six days a week, shuffling him between right field, center field, shortstop and third base to keep his bat in the lineup.
Having Victorino behind Holt in the order could give the Sox some stability at the top of the lineup. The Sox have used seven different players in the No. 2 spot in the order and they’ve hit .247 with a .643 on-base percentage. A year ago, Victorino hit .294 with a .801 OPS and 21 stolen bases in the two-hole.
“It’s hard to say what his production would’ve been over those two months,” Farrell said. “But you take a gold glove right fielder who played probably to the peak of his career last year and it’s been a loss.
“So all we can do is focus on today and going forward and we’ve got a very good player coming back to us.”Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.