|Carl Crawford, Ryan Sweeney move closer to the majors in Manchester||07.05.12 at 10:53 pm ET|
MANCHESTER, N.H. – Carl Crawford made his next step towards getting back to the big leagues on Thursday night. He made his second appearance with Double-A Portland as part of his rehab from an elbow ailment that has kept him out all season long.
Crawford led off and started in left field for the Sea Dogs. He went 1-for-4 for the game, and registered his only hit on a triple that was pounded into the right-centerfield gap off of New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitcher Fernando Hernandez in the fifth inning. He sprinted around the bases with ease like the Crawford of old as he slid into third without any difficulty.
“That swing felt pretty good, I ran the bases pretty good,” Crawford said.
“I hope to be able to drive the ball well,” he said. “[I’m] just trying to not do too much. I got a good piece of wood on it and found the gap.”
Crawford opened the game by grounding out to second, then led off the third by striking out a 90 mph outside fastball. With two outs down in the fifth, he found the gap on the triple, then scored on a Jackie Bradley, Jr. single before legging out a fielder’s choice in the seventh. He was then replaced by Peter Hissey on first, which marked the end of the night.
He said that his rehab stint has allowed him to see everything as he prepares to return to the majors, which is expected to be after the All-Star break.
“I’ve been getting just about everything,” he said. “Running the bases, seeing balls off the bat. … I’m getting the things that I need to get ready.”
While he isn’t expected back until after the break, Crawford expressed a desire to be back with the big-league Red Sox this weekend as they prepare for a four-game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Crawford, however, said he’s “probably” not physically ready for that yet.
“Of course I’d like to be up in the big leagues playing right now,” Crawford said. “I don’t know if that’s possible, but definitely in the back of my mind I wish I was up there playing.”
Crawford has received a good reception from the fans during his rehab stint, especially the last two games in New Hampshire. Thursday night’s game drew 7,081 fans who greeted him with warm applause every time he stepped to the plate.
But Crawford, who has received a lot of criticism since joining Boston under a lucrative contract, responded to how he feels about his negative reception, even going as far as to point out a fan during Thursday night’s game that bothered him.
“[That guy] actually called me a racial slur to begin the game with,” Crawford said. “He was the only one I had a problem with. People in Boston don’t even do that so I don’t even know what that was about.
“I can understand why people can be upset about me signing my contract and me having the kind of year I had. I understand. They love their team and they want you to produce when you signed the contract like that. I can’t get mad at them. All I can do is just get ready to play this year and try to produce.”
It’s not known whether or not Crawford will return to the Sea Dogs lineup on Friday night.
Crawford wasn’t the only Red Sox player on assignment Thursday. Ryan Sweeney started as the Sea Dogs’ designated hitter and also produced a 1-for-4 effort. His single up the middle in the first inning was his only hit of the night.
“[I] can’t really look at the results [and] hits every time,” Sweeney said. “[The] first at-bat felt good, and I felt like I took some good swings on the ball.”
Sweeney is returning from injuring the big toe on his left foot that landed him on the 15-day disabled list on June 27. Thursday was his first rehab start back and he said he felt no ill effects of his injury.
After his single, he registered two groundouts and a pop fly.
“[The] foot felt good,” he said. “It’s key to get out there and just see some pitches, try to track some balls and put some good swings on stuff. [It] felt pretty good out there.”
Sweeney said that he thinks he’ll be with the Sea Dogs through the weekend, but that he doesn’t have a timetable after that.
“[I’ll] hopefully be activated here pretty soon,” he said. “I think it’s up to the front office, because there’s so many guys on the DL, coming off the DL, so there are going to be some decisions that will probably need to be made in the next couple of days. All I can do is go where they tell me to go.”
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