Battling injuries, Crisp feeling better
Red Sox center fielder hasn't ruled out making trip to Japan
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Friday marked the 12th straight day that the Red Sox played baseball and Coco Crisp did not. You don't need to be a doctor to know that the calendar is working against Crisp in his quest to board the plane on Wednesday with the rest of the team en route to Tokyo.
Is it a reach to think that Crisp -- who has been sidelined with tightness in both groins -- would be ready that soon?
"It's certainly looking more and more that way," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I don't want to speak out of turn or ahead of time because it doesn't make sense, but at the proper time, we'll make proper announcements. But I understand your point."
Crisp hasn't ruled anything out as far as Japan goes, but he's also realistic.
"I have no clue," said Crisp. "I would love to go out there. I always wanted to go out there, so it would be nice to go out there and see that. We have two [regular-season] games out there, too, so it would be nice to start the season off with the team. We'll have to see. I'll take it slow. I can't rush, because like I said, I go out there and play banged up and it's been unfortunate for myself [in the past]."
Though he hasn't been playing in games, the center fielder isn't in idle mode. In fact, he is finally starting to feel as if things are getting better.
"The last three days have been good," Crisp said. "Solid progress. Before that, it was going slow. For some reason, I don't know, it sped up the last few days. I was able to jog around. I started batting practice in the cage and going outside, and I had a full workout today."
But one thing Crisp can't do yet is sprint.
"I just have to be patient with the sprinting, that's the thing," said Crisp. "I jog and I run different. When I jog, I'm more straight up with my leg. When I run, I pull my feet out and I start digging, and that's when I feel it."
Crisp is hardly alone on the team's daily bumps and bruises report.
Shortstop Julio Lugo, who will return to the lineup on Saturday after missing 12 games with back tightness, is still hoping to be ready for Opening Day.
Ace Josh Beckett (back spasms) hasn't officially been ruled out for Japan, but the fact he has yet to resume baseball activities makes it highly unlikely he'll be ready for that lengthy journey.
"[Beckett] said he's closer. He had a good day yesterday," Francona said. "He's on the treadmill doing some walking. He's getting there. We kind of told him, 'When you think you're there, we'll probably back you up a couple of days.'
"He's doing a good job of doing exactly what the trainers tell him to do. That's not an easy thing for him to do because he's such a 100-mph guy. But he's doing a good job of that. When I think it's appropriate, after we've talked to just about everybody, then we'll state where we're going with people and what we're doing. I just want to make sure some things fall into place and things like that."
The situation with Crisp is an interesting one, because he had hoped to be spending his exhibition season battling Jacoby Ellsbury to be the team's starting center fielder. Instead, his attention has shifted to just trying to get back on the field.
"Jacoby's a good player," Crisp said. "He's going out there and doing his part. I haven't exactly been keeping up with what he's been doing. I know he's a good player. It's pretty much up to them on how they're going to look at it. I don't think it would go wrong either way with this. Everything is kind of like a wait and see for me right now."
With Crisp unable to play, it's hard to gauge whether he is on the verge of returning to the type of offensive player he was in Cleveland. In his two years in Boston, injuries have slowed Crisp's production at the plate.
"I guess I can't show whether or not I'm a .300 hitter or a .260 hitter or a .270 hitter or whatever," Crisp said. "I guess that's the thing in baseball, offense is the key to being an everyday player. That's something you have to go out and show on a consistent basis. Just have to kind of wait and see."
Of course, the other wrinkle to the Crisp situation is that potential suitors who could be looking for help in the outfield haven't been able to scout him in Spring Training.
"I don't really think about too many things," Crisp said. "I understand things could happen, but I don't really think about them on a day-to-day basis or you'd get frustrated. Like I said, it's a terrible feeling not to be out there with the guys. As far as showcasing myself, I don't even worry about that. I'm here, and hopefully people will believe in what I can do. I believe in it."
Despite the untimely injury, Crisp is keeping a positive outlook.
"I felt good in camp, I still feel good," said Crisp. "I feel bigger, faster and stronger, so it's just about getting healthy and being able to go out there and have fun with it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.