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06/09/12 4:00 PM ET

Byrd designated for assignment by Red Sox

BOSTON -- Marlon Byrd became the odd man out in the outfield, and the Red Sox designated him for assignment on Saturday to open a roster spot for right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list to start against the Nationals.

The move was not a surprise, as Byrd was called into manager Bobby Valentine's office after Friday's 7-4 loss to the Nationals.

Byrd was acquired in a trade with the Cubs on April 21 for pitching prospect Michael Bowden, back when the Red Sox were in desperate need of an outfielder after a rash of injuries.

"Marlon came here and kind of saved the day, and now he'll more than likely be with another team. Hopefully, it's not in our division competing against us," said Valentine. "He did a good job while he was here. We just needed room for a starting pitcher today."

The veteran hit .270 with one homer, seven RBIs and a .286 on-base percentage in 34 games for the Sox.

The emergence of left fielder Daniel Nava, the addition of Scott Podsednik and Adrian Gonzalez's ability to play right field made Byrd expendable.

Nava entered Saturday's game with an impressive line of .311/.443/.511 with two homers and 19 RBIs. He made his 28th start in left field since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on May 10.

"I guess they're related," Valentine said. "When we got Marlon, there was a real need for outfield depth, and Daniel has filled in very nicely there, he's done a great job."

In fact, the Red Sox chose between Byrd and Darnell McDonald.

McDonald was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. In the end, the club's familiarity with McDonald made him the choice to stay.

"He's had a little more history here, obviously -- people and coaches and all were much more familiar with him," Valentine said. "And we feel that he might be able to give us a little more extra-base power when hitting against left-handers."

Matsuzaka made his 2012 debut on Saturday vs. Washington exactly 365 days after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was the right-hander's first start in the Majors since May 16, 2011, vs. the Orioles.

Crawford working on a new throwing motion

BOSTON -- Carl Crawford has started a throwing program, the next step in his return from offseason wrist surgery and a UCL sprain in his left elbow.

The injured outfielder threw from 60 feet before Saturday's game vs. the Nationals for the second straight day.

"I'm feeling good," Crawford said. "I'm just taking it one day at a time."

He's working on a new throwing motion in an effort to keep his left elbow healthy. Crawford requested the club's help in changing his mechanics, and he is throwing with a late rotation of the upper body as opposed to the early rotation he once used.

"It's just to get the proper feel, make sure his body is in synch with his arm, and he looked very good doing it," said manager Bobby Valentine. "He played catch today and threw the ball well, ran the bases. He's progressing."

Crawford has not played in an organized game since last season ended. He took batting practice on Saturday, spraying the ball to all parts of the field.

Crawford's progression is ahead of fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who is recovering from a separated shoulder.

Ellsbury hit off a tee for the sixth straight day on Saturday. He's throwing but is not ready to take live BP.

"He's felt great, he's in very good physical condition and his baseball activities are going to progress in this progression that we have him on," Valentine said. "He has had no setbacks."

Ellsbury has not played since his injury vs. the Rays on April 13.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.