Shane Victorino in starting lineup

Updated: June 9, 2013, 1:03 AM ET
By Steven Krasner and Scott Barboza | Special to ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Shane Victorino was taken off the disabled list Saturday and thrust into the Boston Red Sox's starting lineup in center field for the second game of a day-night doubleheader against the Angels.

But less than one full inning into his return, he looked as though he might be headed back on the shelf.

After lining a leadoff single to left off of Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson, Victorino scored on Jonny Gomes' wall-ball double to left-center. He came around to score with a head-first dive into home plate.

Victorino then kept running straight into the Red Sox dugout and down the ramp toward the clubhouse, followed by members of the team's training staff. He appeared to be grimacing while rounding third.

"I felt a little something early in the game," he said. "I don't know if it was just something that taking two weeks off and then really pushing it for the first time, maybe grabbed it a little bit. But I felt good throughout the game and that's the most important part -- that I was able to play nine."

In the fourth, Victorino exhibited that his hamstring injury was no worse for the wear, tracking down a deep fly off the bat of Howie Kendrick into the triangle with an over-the-shoulder catch.

"Felt like another catch to me," he said. "As I've always said, I take pride in my defense."

Victorino was 1-for-5 with a run scored in Boston's 7-2 win.

"Ideally, tomorrow, we'll give him a chance to kind of regroup," manager John Farrell said. "He had just the one game on rehab, so we'll have to alternate some things."

Victorino had played well enough in a brief rehab assignment with Pawtucket to justify bringing him back to the active roster. Farrell said before the game that Victorino's timing at the plate was solid and that he had looked good running the bases, clearing him for the return to active duty with the Red Sox.

"He was challenged right from the get-go," Farrell said of Victorino's return. "He'd been activated for about an hour and he goes first-to-home on the double by Gomes. He hit a soft spot at third base and it grabbed him a little bit. But he didn't have any additional tightness through the course of the game."

Factoring into the decision to activate Victorino was Jacoby Ellsbury's health issue.

Ellsbury, the Red Sox's center fielder, has been in and out of the lineup over the past week because of a groin problem, so the team needs to "manage" his health, Farrell said. Ellsbury bats left-handed, so Farrell opted to have the switch-hitting Victorino in the lineup as the leadoff hitter against Wilson.

This was Victorino's second start of the season in center. He has been the starting right fielder. He is batting .280 with two homers, 10 RBIs and four stolen bases.

To make room for Victorino, the Red Sox returned outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to Pawtucket.

"I'm going to go back down there, do the same thing, as usual, and keep grinding," Bradley said.

He felt his second stint in the majors went well.

"It's an improvement. You're always working to get better, just getting better as you go and see what happens."

In other Sox news, third baseman Will Middlebrooks (lower back) is continuing his rehab with the PawSox in Syracuse. Middlebrooks has been making solid progress, according to Farrell.

Scott Barboza

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Scott Barboza joined ESPNBoston.com as a high schools editor/reporter in May 2010. He spent the previous three seasons working in the New England Patriots media relations department after a stint at the Taunton Daily Gazette, where he covered everything from Little League baseball to the Boston Red Sox.

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