Shane Victorino back with Red Sox

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox activated outfielder Shane Victorino off the disabled list prior to Saturday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.

Victorino was in the starting lineup, batting sixth and playing in right field. He went 1-for-3 with a single in the 2-1 Red Sox win.

"This is what it's all about. Work hard. You try to do what you got to do to get back as quick as you can," Victorino said before the game. "Unfortunately there were some setbacks. I'm here. I'm at this point where I worked hard to get to where I'm at. As I said, I'm going to continue to work hard to be the best player I can be. Go out there and do what I can to make this team better. But I'm not the guy. I'm not the answer. I'm not the guy that's going to go out there and carry the load."

Rookie Mookie Betts was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for Victorino on the roster.

"He's played the last couple of days consecutively in Pawtucket," manager John Farrell said of Victorino. "Anytime we get Vic back in our lineup it's going to give us a boost."

On the disabled list since May 24 while recovering from a hamstring strain and back issue suffered during his first rehab attempt, Victorino represents a welcome addition for the Red Sox. Despite only having hit .242 with one home run in 21 games with Boston this season, his numbers last year (.294 batting average, 15 home runs, 21 stolen bases) suggest he'll serve as an improvement to an outfield ranked toward the bottom of the league in every major offensive category.

"It's hard to say what his production would have been over those two months, 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," Farrell said. "All we can do is focus on today and going forward. We've got a very good player back to us."

Having played in back-to-back games only once during his second rehab stint with Pawtucket, Victorino's playing time will be carefully managed moving forward. Farrell suggested that Victorino could initially take the field five times a week, with rest built in as a way to ease him back. Farrell is also mindful of the team traveling to Toronto on Monday, where the AstroTurf at Rogers Centre could present an issue for any player used to grass.

"Based on the feedback from the medical staff, he's responded to the last few days and prior to the All-Star break better than he has previous," Farrell said. "He still requires some maintenance work, which a number of guys do. I guess the best thing I can tell you is we'll have to balance it going forward."

With Victorino returning to the team, the Red Sox also will be forced to balance Brock Holt's playing time moving forward. Primarily playing right field in Victorino's absence, Holt has solidified the team's leadoff role. The rookie has played every inning there since first being installed at the top of the lineup May 23 and has succeeded, leading the majors with 72 hits since then.

Holt played at shortstop Saturday night and led off, going 1-for-4.

"Brock will get reps in right, in center, at short and at third," Farrell said. "Ideally we keep him in that leadoff spot six days a week at a minimum."

Also clearly impacted is Betts, who showed glimpses of his high potential in his time with the major league club this season. In 10 games, Betts hit .235 with a home run and two RBI while also making an impact with his speed on several occasions. Farrell had high praise for the 21-year-old whose timeline to the majors was originally sped up by Victorino's injury.

"He managed his at-bats well," Farrell said. "I thought he showed very good presence -- or at least composure -- for a guy who had 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 at Pawtucket while also playing some second base."

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald contributed to this report.