Asked yesterday for a timetable on Will Middlebrooks' return from the disabled list, Red Sox manager John Farrell said only, "Soon."

Apparently, the time has come.

Middlebrooks has been reinstated to the Red Sox' roster and is starting at third base here tonight in the series opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He went 5-for-17 with two homers and six RBI in five games for Triple-A Pawtucket, including a weekend series in Syracuse, N.Y.

To make room for Middlebrooks, the Red Sox intend to designate infielder Pedro Ciriaco for assignment, leaving Jose Iglesias as their primary utilityman off the bench. Iglesias is 24-for-54 (.444) since being recalled from Pawtucket when Middlebrooks went on the disabled list and is batting .446 in 22 games overall in the majors. Ciriaco, meanwhile, has struggled to adapt to a utility role, batting only .216 and making seven errors in only 22 games.