BOSTON -- Now that his team is getting healthy again, manager John Farrell looks forward to being able to post a consistent lineup every game.
The one for Thursday's game against the Yankees had Dustin Pedroia leading off, with Shane Victorino hitting second in his debut. David Ortiz was in the three-hole, followed by Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and Xander Bogaerts.
Against righties, Grady Sizemore will probably bat fifth.
In particular, the leadoff spot has had a lot of change, with five different players hitting in that slot. Look for Pedroia to stick there for a while.
"I'd like to think we'd take the current lineup and run with it for a while to further that stability both defensively and through the lineup," said Farrell.
The entire "A" lineup will play together for the first time on Friday night in Toronto, when third baseman Will Middlebrooks is expected to be activated.
"I think that's the one thing I talked about a minute ago, is just the continuity and some stability with the names we anticipated breaking camp with. Three and a half weeks into the season, we're finally getting there," said Farrell.
After missing 22 games, Victorino returns to lineup
BOSTON -- In one roster addition on Thursday, the Red Sox got an important hitter, fielder, baserunner and burst of energy.
Shane Victorino was in manager John Farrell's lineup for the first time this season, batting second and starting in right field.
"I'm going to come back and do what I do, whether it be to put down a bunt, make a play on defense, steal a base, score a run, whatever aspect it might be," said Victorino. "Hopefully that generates energy and generates runs. Any time you win, it's always good."
Getting Victorino, who went 1-for-5 in the Sox's 14-5 loss to the Yankees, back was a welcome sight for a team that has struggled out of the chute.
"This is something we've been waiting for for some time here, and Shane's return, we feel, will help solidify our outfield defense," said Farrell. "It's good to have him back in the lineup, there's no doubt about it."
Victorino strained his right hamstring in the Red Sox's final Grapefruit League, forcing him to miss the first 22 games of the regular season. For someone who loves being on the field so much, it was a tough pill to swallow.
"I just want to play. It's long awaited," Victorino said. "I'm just excited to be back out here with the guys. I've been watching from afar. I've been cheering with my pom poms, but it's time for me to put those down and get back out there and play the game I love. I'm going to give it my all, so I'm excited."
There was a different feeling in the clubhouse before Thursday's game.
"We missed not only the on-field stuff, but the energy that he brings," said Farrell. That's felt in the dugout, it's felt in the clubhouse. He came in and it was almost like Christmas morning, knowing he was going to be active in the lineup. He's a welcome sight back for us."
Victorino felt honored to know his teammates missed him so much, but he knows he is just one piece of the team.
"It's a compliment and I take it as a compliment from these guys," Victorino said. "Especially these guys that, for me, that I respect, and get to play along with every day. I take that as a great compliment. Somebody said the other day, 'Do you feel like the weight of your team is on your shoulders?' No, not at all. I think the game is hard enough as it is without having that attitude."
To make room for Victorino on the roster, the Red Sox optioned right-hander Alex Wilson back to Triple-A Pawtucket. Wilson was only on the roster for one game, and he didn't pitch.
To spare bullpen, Carp pitches inning of relief
BOSTON -- Mike Carp is known for his versatility as a Major League player. However, it reached a new level in Thursday's 14-5 loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park.
With the Red Sox bullpen taxed after pitching 5 1/3 frames, Carp strolled out of the Red Sox's bullpen to pitch the ninth inning. It marked the first pitching appearance of his professional career.
"[Bench coach] Torey [Lovullo] came up to me when I was down hitting in the cage and asked me if I'd be willing to do it," Carp said.
"It was a cool experience. It is every little kids dream. It was a tough game to go into, but it was good to save our bullpen an inning."
Fans cheered as Carp made his way to the mound. He was then greeted by catcher David Ross, who gave him the rundown of signs for pitches.
Carp threw mostly knuckleballs in the inning, but he mixed in an occasional fastball, which topped out at 83 mph. He threw 38 pitches, 15 for strikes.
In total, Carp faced seven hitters, allowing one run, while walking five batters.
The highlight of Carp's outing came when he got Brian McCann, the second batter of the inning, to ground into a 6-5-3 double play.
"It was cool to get it right off the bat," Carp said. "I thought things were going to turn out better than they did. I got a couple of swings and no one hit the ball hard. I did my job."
For a player who last pitched in high school, Carp looked quite comfortable on the mound.
"I'd prefer to hit no matter what, so I'm never going to take it up," Carp said. "It was a cool experience to add to the resume."
Middlebrooks set to come off disabled list
BOSTON -- When the Red Sox open their three-game series in Toronto on Friday night, they will have their regular lineup together for the first time this season.
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks will be activated from the disabled list, a day after right fielder Shane Victorino made his debut in 2014.
To make room for Middlebrooks on the roster, the Red Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Coming off a left calf strain, Middlebrooks went 0-for-4 in his final Minor League rehab game for Pawtucket on Thursday.
"He swung the bat better today," said manager John Farrell. "Came out of it physically fine. I think that's the one thing I talked about a minute ago is just the continuity and some stability with the names we anticipated breaking camp with. Three and a half weeks into the season, we're finally getting there."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.