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07/27/09 10:40 PM ET
Angels' Rivera returns to action
Slugging outfielder cleared to DH for Monday's opener
By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- After sitting out eight games with a tight right hamstring, Juan Rivera made his much-awaited return to the Angels' lineup as a designated hitter in Monday's game against the Cleveland Indians.
Rivera originally injured his hamstring on July 10 against the Yankees when he lost his footing running down the first-base line trying to beat out a throw before tightness resurfaced on July 18 in Oakland.
The final hurdle for Rivera before getting back into the starting lineup was to see how his hamstring held up with him running around the bases at full speed, and after it reacted well, Angels manager Mike Scioscia knew Rivera was ready.
"He is fine to DH," Scioscia said. "We will get him some at bats, see how the game goes and start to fold him back into left field sometime this week once he gets settled."
However, Scioscia sees limitations as to what Rivera can do when the team travels to Minnesota to play a three-game series on artificial turf starting on Friday.
"That is a concern when you are on that turf as to where guys with injuries to their backs and legs and how it affects them," Scioscia said. "It is a different animal playing on turf and it is certainly something we are looking at closely.
"If we can get him out there for a game, I think that is a possibility, but certainly it won't be for three games to play defense."
Every day since Rivera's injury, he and Scioscia have been communicating about how the outfielder felt and if his injury was getting any less sore.
While Rivera has not been participating in running drills since his injury, he has been partaking in batting practice and has been throwing with the team.
"I feel like after I play a few games at DH, I should be ready to play out in the field," said Rivera.
In his previous 27 games before getting injured, Rivera hit .316 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs.
"Being out for two weeks and not having anyone pitch to me, I know that I will have to take more pitches when I go to hit," said Rivera.
It didn't take Rivera that long, however, as he sent the fifth pitch he saw on Monday over the fence for his 17th homer of the season.