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Red Sox activate Mookie Betts from DL after 14-game absence

FILE - Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts hits his third home run of the game in the seventh inning in a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, at Fenway Park, Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Mookie Betts and his big league-best .359 batting average are back with the Boston Red Sox, who activated the outfielder from the disabled list Monday and put him in the leadoff spot against the Baltimore Orioles.

Betts missed 14 games with an abdominal strain. Boston went 8-6 in his absence and started play Monday a half-game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.

"It was just a matter of letting it kind of heal," said Betts, who hit 17 home runs before being placed on the 10-DL on June. 1. "We'll see how I feel after the game today and go from there."

Betts' return was quicker than many had anticipated.

"We talked about it yesterday, me and Mook," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He feels comfortable that he can compete at this level, the way he is right now. He's healthy and we agreed to it."

In addition to leading the big leagues in hitting, Betts is first in on-base percentage (.437) and slugging percentage (.750). He's also tied for first with 52 runs.

To make room on the 25-man roster, the Red Sox optioned Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket.

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