BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine touched on a few topics in his pregame briefing with the media on Wednesday:
-- Carl Crawford went 1 for 3 in an extended spring game in Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday. His hit was a home run. Crawford’s surgically repaired left wrist is no problem, said Valentine, but the Red Sox left fielder is still nursing a strained left elbow. Crawford should be able to play in the field soon, but Valentine said he's not at the stage yet where he could charge a ball and make a throw home in an attempt to nail a runner trying to score from second.
-- The batting order looked a little different Wednesday night against Texas left-hander Derek Holland. Valentine split up his left-handed hitters in the middle of the order (Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz), as he has been doing, but for this game outfielder Cody Ross is between them in the cleanup spot, with struggling Kevin Youkilis dropped down to sixth. Youkilis is batting only .176. He fanned four times in as many at-bats Tuesday night.
Valentine, who seemingly questioned Youkilis’ dedication in a TV interview the other night, causing a flap in the team's clubhouse, went out of his way Wednesday to say the third baseman is “working as hard as anyone” at trying to come out of his slump.
-- Daisuke Matsuzaka was in the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon having his elbow checked out by the medical staff. Dice-K is trying to rebound from last June’s Tommy John surgery. Valentine said the right-hander is “close” to being ready to make a rehab start.
-- Left-hander Andrew Miller was a possibility to be called up to replace Mark Melancon, but Valentine said the organization wanted to see Miller have another good outing in Pawtucket so Junichi Tazawa got the call. Valentine said Miller will pitch Thursday for Pawtucket. If that goes well, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think the Sox would call him up and send out left-hander Justin Thomas.