Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Boston Red Sox [Print without images]

Saturday, July 16, 2011
Crawford hitless in five innings for PawSox

By Steven Krasner

PAWTUCKET -- Carl Crawford’s injured left hamstring apparently passed its tests in the left fielder’s two rehab games for the Pawtucket Red Sox. At least, there were no perceptible issues in his 10 innings of Triple A ball.

But, as was clear Friday and Saturday nights, Crawford’s timing at the plate, not surprisingly, needs more work.

Crawford went 0 for 3 Saturday night, failing to even hit a hard foul ball. He struck out, grounded out and popped up. Defensively, the only action Crawford had in the five innings he was in the lineup consisted of playing catch with a pitcher out of the bullpen prior to each inning.

In his two games in Pawtucket, Crawford went 1 for 5 with a walk. His hit came in his first at-bat Friday night, and was a broken-bat run-scoring single to center. Crawford had one RBI and also scored a run. In the field, he caught the only ball hit his way.

And how did Crawford feel about his health and his performance Saturday night? Well, he apparently wasn’t in the mood to share his thoughts. He didn’t stick around to speak to the media, except for a brief chat with a TV reporter.

PawSox officials told the media after the fact that Crawford had told the clubhouse attendant not to let the media know he was leaving until he was gone for a while. The media wasn’t called down to the clubhouse until a half-hour after Crawford had left.

But unless Crawford, who has been on the disabled list since June18, suffered a twinge Saturday night that will slow his physical progress, it is expected that he will fly to Baltimore Sunday and be activated from the DL in time to play for Boston against the Orioles in Camden Yards on Monday night. That, at least, was the plan before Crawford began his brief rehab stint in Pawtucket.

“The fact he didn’t stick around [to talk to the media] must mean he’s OK,” said Arnie Beyeler, the PawSox manager.

“He got his work in. He was happy with what he did. He came in and got his treatment and got out of here quick,” said Beyeler, adding that he hadn’t heard “anything negative at all” from the Pawtucket training staff concerning Crawford.

There weren’t many highlights for Crawford on Saturday night.

In the first inning, Crawford was overmatched by right-hander Matt Torra’s 90-mile-an-hour inside fastball. Crawford swung and missed the 1-and-2 pitch for a strikeout. The at-bat could have been worse, though. Crawford chopped the first pitch off his right foot, causing him to hobble around a little bit before stepping back into the batter’s box.

Crawford had a chance to test his hamstring in his next at-bat, in the third. He was jammed by an 89-mile-an-hour fastball, hitting a bouncer off the handle wide of first base. He got a good hard break out of the box and hustled down the first-base line, but the throw from first baseman Dan Johnson to Torra covering the bag beat Crawford.

In his final at-bat of the night, Crawford faced left-hander R.J. Swindle with runners on first and third and one out. Swindle features slow and slower pitches. His first five pitches arrived at the plate at 68, 70, 78, 71 and 69 miles an hour. The count went full, and then Swindle jammed Crawford with an 80-mile-an-hour fastball. The result was a weak popup to the third baseman, Daniel Mayora, who caught the ball a step or two in on the infield grass.

And when Crawford’s turn in the batting order came around again, Nate Spears pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the fifth.

“He’s going to have to get his timing and get going again,” said Beyeler. “He knows what he needs [in terms of rehab at-bats]. Hopefully he’s ready to go. Some guys just need the big-league lights to come on and they’re ready to roll.”