Travis batted eighth in his first major league game since July 28 last year. He missed the remainder of the season with a left shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.
"Maybe he'll give us a jolt," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We could use it."
With shortstop Troy Tulowitzki nursing a sore right quadriceps that kept him out Wednesday, the last-place Blue Jays decided it was time to activate Travis, who had been playing rehab games in the minors.
Tulowitzki left Tuesday night's game in the seventh inning after tweaking his quad when he stole second base. He woke up feeling better and did plenty of agility work in the weight room. He plans to play Thursday.
"I feel good," he said. "Just give it another day and make sure I'm good to go. A little sore, but nothing to worry about."
Ryan Goins made his third start of the season at shortstop and stopped an 0-for-15 slump with a two-run double in the fourth inning. Goins, who began the night batting .148, had been starting at second base before losing playing time recently to Darwin Barney.
Toronto optioned switch-pitcher Pat Venditte to Triple-A Buffalo. Venditte, who throws with both hands, had a 4.05 ERA in seven relief appearances.
Travis batted .304 with eight homers, 18 doubles and an .859 OPS in 62 games last season. He was selected the AL rookie of the month for April.
"He's got a chance to be a good hitter in this league for a while, at least from what we saw last year," Gibbons said. "One of the best young hitters."
The 25-year-old Travis had two screws put in his shoulder during the operation and spent the early part of this season rehabbing. He hit .306 with four doubles and eight RBI in nine minor league rehab games, four at Class A Dunedin and five with Triple-A Buffalo.
"It's been a long 10 months. I'm so excited to be back," said Travis, who scored on Goins' two-out double after reaching on an infield single. "It's like opening day for me."
Gibbons said the Blue Jays will give Travis a couple of games to see how well he's swinging the bat. If he's having success, they might move him up to the leadoff spot, which would allow Gibbons to drop his big boppers back down.
With his team struggling to score, Gibbons recently juggled the lineup and moved power hitter Jose Bautista into the leadoff slot, followed directly by AL MVP Josh Donaldson and slugger Edwin Encarnacion.
"It's been a tough road. I'm almost at a loss for words," Travis said, adding that he's swinging at 100 percent. "I feel great. My shoulder feels great. I haven't even thought about my shoulder in a couple months. ... I'm so happy to be healthy."