|Pregame notes: Carl Crawford bats second on birthday||08.05.12 at 2:41 pm ET|
Despite it being the eighth day in a row he has played in the midst of playing through a damaged ligament in his left elbow that will eventually require Tommy John surgery, outfielder Carl Crawford will start and bat second when the Red Sox host the Twins on Sunday afternoon in the series finale at Fenway Park.
Crawford kicked off his birthday by singling in his first at-bat, and then plating the Red Sox’ first run with a groundout to shortstop.
There hasn’t been a hotter hitter recently for the Red Sox than Crawford, and manager Bobby Valentine hopes that the outfielder can continue his ways on a special day.
“It’s his birthday,” Valentine said of Crawford, who turns 31 on Sunday. “The least he should do is play today.”
Crawford has hit safely in seven of his last eight games with two home runs and eight RBIs in that time period and has shown no signs of his injury slowing him down.
“He’s playing great,” Valentine said. “He’s swinging well and doing everything we needed him to do in the outfield and on the bases, so if he needs a day, he’ll get a day just like everyone else, but right now there’s nothing restricting him.”
• Jacoby Ellsbury will be back in the lineup Sunday, batting leadoff a day after he got a day of rest. Valentine insisted there was nothing serious wrong with Ellsbury, who took the day off to prevent an unspecified situation to worsen.
“We were trying to keep a situation from getting where we don’t want it to be, so hopefully his situation’s caught,” Valentine said.
“It wasn’t a hamstring. He doesn’t like to have things mentioned. It was just a preventative thing.”
• Josh Beckett is still on track to return Wednesday night against the Rangers, according to Valentine. The right-hander, who left Tuesday’s game against the Tigers due to a back spasm, went out early Sunday morning for a bullpen session.
“He looked good, felt good,” Valentine said.
• There’s still no timetable for David Ortiz to return. The designated hitter has been out since July 17 when he strained his right Achilles while running the bases.
“[There’s] nothing new on David,” Valentine said. “I suspect today’s going to be a full workout where he’ll test everything.”
• Franklin Morales will start on the mound for the Red Sox on Sunday, his first start since July 13. Valentine said he won’t be monitoring his pitch count despite a long layoff between starts.
“We’ll watch his command, and his numbers, but there’s not really a limitation,” Valentine said.
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