Still, he was impressive.
Rivera launched several balls over the outfield wall, using mostly his torso and upper body to drive the rock. Without drive in his legs, the Angels outfielder was still putting on a show.
When he reached base twice that game, however, Rivera looked every bit the broken wing. At the time, it appeared he would not return to the Halos this season.
Playing daily in rehab assignments, how could he get past the soreness and begin running at regular speed and using his lower body in the box?
"The reports were that over his last 20 at-bats (in Triple-A), he's really getting comfortable in the box and he's running well," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a guy who's obviously going to add depth to our team as far as bringing a bat, but also in allowing us to re-establish our depth chart.
A year ago, Juan Rivera was probably the most productive (and valuable) fourth outfielder in baseball. He reached career-highs in nearly every offensive category including batting average (.310), home runs (23) and RBIs (85).
But a fractured left tibia suffered while playing winter ball in December delayed his first major league game of 2007 until Sunday afternoon, and not even Rivera knows how much of that player he can be in the final month of the season.
"I can't tell you," he said through an interpreter before making his season debut Sunday. "I missed a lot of games. I was out seven months without playing."
He batted a combined .282 (20-for-71) with nine doubles and 19 RBIs in 18 games on a minor league injury-rehabilitation assignment in High-A and Triple-A before being activated from the 60-day disabled list Sunday. He started in right field against the Texas Rangers and got a warm reception from the home fans while going hitless in three at-bats.
"We'd like to see what he can contribute, how much he can contribute," added Scioscia.