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06/27/08 7:28 PM ET

Crisp's suspension down to five games

Outfielder to start sentence Saturday, will miss Rays series

HOUSTON -- The verdict is in regarding the appeal of Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp's suspension. Crisp, who held a conference call with Major League Baseball officials earlier this week, was able to knock two games off the original seven-game suspension.

The switch-hitting reserve will instead miss five games, beginning with Saturday's contest at Houston.

Just don't expect Crisp to have any designs of pursuing his own law practice. According to Crisp, his words had minimal impact on the suspension being reduced.

"I didn't say much at all," Crisp said. "I sat and let everyone else doing the talking, and then I said my piece at the end. I think that was the best thing to do -- to just sit there and not say anything."

The timing of the suspension means that Crisp will miss the three-game series beginning at Tropicana Field on Monday, which is significant considering the disciplinary action was handed down because of a bench-clearing fracas between the Red Sox and the Rays.

Crisp was hit on the leg by a James Shields offering on June 5, and proceeded to charge the mound. Punches were thrown on both sides.

Things got sticky between Crisp and the Rays one game earlier, when the outfielder took exception to shortstop Jason Bartlett sticking his knee out while trying to tag Crisp on a stolen-base attempt. Later in that game, Crisp again tried to steal, and aggressively took out second baseman Akinori Iwamura in the process, leaving Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon miffed.

"I don't think anything was going to happen in Tampa if I was going to play in any of those games," Crisp said. "But [for] precautionary reasons, I guess, for the first series back, see what happens and let everything cool down."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona is prepared to make do without Crisp for a few days.

"Hopefully it doesn't affect us, that's the idea," Francona said. "We can play [Jacoby] Ellsbury in center. Hopefully Manny [Ramirez] is OK in left. It gives us Mossy [Brandon Moss] as our backup outfielder. We've played without guys before, it shouldn't affect us unless somebody gets injured."

Now that Crisp's discipline is finalized, the matter is officially closed for the Red Sox.

Left-handed starter Jon Lester already served his five-game suspension. Earlier this week, first baseman Sean Casey dropped the appeal of his three-game suspension.

Aside from the obvious subplot, the upcoming series between the Red Sox and Rays figures to be an interesting one. Entering play on Friday, Boston led Tampa Bay by a mere half-game in the American League East.

Crisp is hitting .271 with five homers and 22 RBIs.

If not for Crisp's upcoming suspension, Ellsbury likely would have started on Friday. Instead, Crisp got the nod, leading off and playing center.

"We probably would have played Ellsbury," Francona said. "But it just seems to make some sense. He's had good success against [Runelvys Hernandez]. He's not going to be here for five days. I kind of explained that to Jacoby."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.