Bobby V talks Crawford, closer situation

April, 2, 2012
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Before Monday's 1:35 game between the Red Sox and Nationals (the last game at JetBlue this spring), manager Bobby Valentine offered the media some interesting nuggets, as usual:

Ships passing in the night: Valentine said he has not been able to develop the rapport he had hoped for with outfielder Carl Crawford, whose setback from offseason wrist surgery has relegated him to conditioning drills and batting practice.

“We would have loved to have seen him in a game and get to work with him and talk to him down here in this practice environment,” he said. “The first time we’ll see him in uniform will be that real environment.”

He said Crawford is making slow progress and should be able to take a few game at-bats soon. He’ll remain in Fort Myers when the team breaks camp today.

“The weather has been great and there’s no reason to do anything where the weather might interrupt his progress,” Valentine said.

He said Crawford might go on assignment, but that it’s not necessary.

“I’ve seen guys go from at-bats down here to the big leagues,” he said.

Closer up in the air: Valentine said Mark Melancon could serve as the closer if Andrew Bailey isn’t ready, but that he’d be comfortable with a number of different options.

Bailey plans to return to Boston today to have his right thumb examined by doctors. Valentine said he thinks Bailey injured the thumb March 21 in Bradenton in a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates and pitched with the injury Wednesday in a minor league game. But no one appears to be sure, including Bailey, who was not available for comment.

“Because we said Andrew was going to pitch in the ninth inning, we also have to have somebody else, because to have a winning streak, you often have to win a lot of games in a row where the closer can’t close every game,” he said.

He said he will not finalize the composition of the bullpen until after Tuesday’s game against Washington at Nationals Park.

JetBlue is true bliss: Lee County forked over $78 million to provide the Red Sox with a palatial spread that would keep them from bailing out and finding another home. After spending six weeks here, Valentine seems in awe.

He gushed about JetBlue Park on Monday, calling it “spectacular” and “just what the doctor ordered.” He said he heard critics wondering why the major-leaguers and minor-leaguers needed to be together, but that was debunked by a conversation with one of the young catchers.

“He said it’s very cool when we have a game here and a game there (on a field adjacent to JetBlue),” he said. “When they’re playing the game there, they can hear the roar of the crowd and they can fantasize what might have happened or what will happen when they eventually get here.

“I think it’s really cool for development. It’s been everything you could need in a spring training complex. The amenities are great and the field condition is great.”



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