Crawford 'imminent' to play spring games

April, 7, 2012
DETROIT -- Carl Crawford's participation in extended spring training games is imminent, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Saturday.

Crawford was asked if he wanted to be in Boston for Friday’s home opener, Valentine said, but declined, saying he preferred to remain in Florida for the game scheduled that day.

Valentine said that the plan is for Crawford to serve as DH at the outset, then play some innings afield and run the bases. Assuming that all goes well, Crawford will be sent out on rehab assignment. Such a timetable would suggest Crawford will return to the big league club before the end of the month.

“It’s imminent,’’ Valentine said of Crawford's taking the field in Fort Myers. “It’s coming very soon.’’

--Two other players who had been left behind in Florida, pitchers Andrew Miller and Rich Hill, begin rehab assignments in Class A Greenville Saturday night. Valentine said Hill, recovering from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, will pitch the first inning, with Miller (hamstring) getting the second.

--Valentine raised his eyebrows when asked if his medical staff had discussed the possibility of Josh Beckett eventually needing surgery on his thumb, a possibility the pitcher raised with reporters on Tuesday. Beckett said he wouldn’t need surgery during the season, but might at some point.

“Oh,’’ Valentine said, “I hadn’t heard that one.’’

Valentine said he did not expect the thumb to be a factor.

“I haven’t heard anything,’’ he said. “I talked to [Beckett] yesterday and he’s ready to go. He was in early today, getting everything he needs to get done. I don’t think there are any issues at all.’’

--Beckett has terrific numbers against the Tigers, especially here. He is 2-1 with a total of 3 earned runs allowed in 3 starts at Comerica, for a 1.31 ERA (3 ER in 20 2/3 IP). Overall, he is 3-2 with a 2.50 ERA (39 2/3 IP, 11 ER)against the Tigers, and he has held Tigers hitters to a .186 average, lowest of any American League team.

--Even though the Red Wings are also playing Saturday, the Tigers are expecting a sellout crowd in excess of 43,000 for their second game. That would be the first time in franchise history that the team has sold out its first two games.

Here are the lineups:
Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
Adrian Gonzalez, 1b
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3b
Ryan Sweeney, rf
Cody Ross, lf
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
Mike Aviles, ss

Josh Beckett, rhp

Austin Jackson cf
Brennan Boesch rf
Miguel Cabrera 3b
Prince Fielder 1b
Delmon Young lf
Alex Avila c
Jhonny Peralta ss
Andy Dirks DH
Ryan Raburn 2b

Doug Fister, rhp

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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