07/19/12 11:24 PM ET
Crawford's start to season far different from 2011
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
The left fielder has made a seamless transition into the Red Sox lineup after missing 89 games with a left elbow injury. In three games entering Thursday's finale against the White Sox, Crawford was 5-for-10 with six runs, three steals and one RBI as the No. 2 hitter in Bobby Valentine's lineup.
It's a stark contrast to what he did in his first two games with the Red Sox in 2011 after signing a seven-year, $142 million contract. Crawford went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts as the No. 3 hitter and saw former manager Terry Francona relegate him to the bottom of the order.
That experience stuck with Crawford, and he learned the importance of producing right away in the pressure-packed atmosphere that is Boston.
"I wanted to come out and get on a good foot. Last year I started out slow. This year I understand that it's better to get out to a fast start," Crawford said. "I've got a lot of energy, I've been playing and want to be back on the field and that definitely played a part in me just wanting to play hard."
It's no secret that many Red Sox fans were disappointed with Crawford's first season in Boston. He hit a career-low .255 with 11 homers, 56 RBIs and 18 steals. Crawford also felt as if Francona did not have confidence in him.
But Crawford has Valentine's backing this year. Instead of dropping Crawford out of his preferred spot in the No. 2 hole with Dustin Pedroia's return from the disabled list on Thursday, Valentine kept Crawford there. Pedroia hit second in 61 games prior to Crawford's return while the second baseman was on the DL.
"We get along just fine," Crawford said of his relationship with Valentine.
So what does Crawford think of playing in Boston after a year to soak it all in?
"I like playing here so far when you're doing well," he said. "When you're doing well it's the best place to play. I think there's always going to be pressure here. It's something you have to get used to and just find a way to relax."
For now, Crawford looks like the dynamic outfielder the Red Sox envisioned when they signed him on Dec. 11, 2010.
Pedroia returns from DL, exciting Sox clubhouse
BOSTON -- Dustin Pedroia is returning at the right time for the Red Sox.
The second baseman was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Thursday's series finale against the White Sox. Pedroia missed 11 games with a strained right thumb and the Red Sox went 5-6 without him.
"He's everything, so hopefully he will bring it all tonight," said manager Bobby Valentine before Thursday's series finale against the White Sox.
With slugger David Ortiz going on the DL on Wednesday, the Red Sox welcomed Pedroia's bat to the lineup.
"It's great, we need that thunder," Ortiz said. "Dustin has been driving everybody crazy around here not being able to play. He loves being on the field. Right now with myself being out and a couple guys coming in, it's working out perfectly."
Pedroia hit third in the lineup in his first game since July 3 at Oakland. He entered Thursday's game with a .286 average in the No. 3 hole in 12 games this season.
While the Red Sox have missed his bat in recent weeks, Pedroia's teammates are simply glad he's back on the field. The second baseman is the club's spark plug.
"It's huge for us; we missed him. He's a huge part of this team and we feed off his energy, so it's definitely nice to have him back," said outfielder Cody Ross. "When he's in the game and feeling it, there's nobody more fun to be around. He's a treat to play with. He's been ready for a while to get back in there."
The Red Sox optioned first baseman Mauro Gomez to Triple-A Pawtucket to open a spot on the active roster for Pedroia. Gomez was called up from the Minors on Wednesday when Ortiz went on the DL with a strained right Achilles tendon.
With Deadline nearing, Sox trade Germano
BOSTON -- The Red Sox traded pitcher Justin Germano to the Cubs for cash considerations on Thursday.
Germano made one appearance with the Red Sox on July 7 vs. the Yankees, tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief with seven strikeouts. The right-hander was designated for assignment on Friday, when Boston activated outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the disabled list.
On Thursday, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino made a radio appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show and said general manager Ben Cherington is "empowered" to make trades before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I think he has the capacity to do it. When he took the job and in fact since then, we have talked frequently about boldness," Lucchino said. "You've got to know when to be bold and when to be somewhat conservative and methodical. This is a club that has been built on bold moves over the years, going back to the Nomar Garciaparra trade, as one example. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that Ben Cherington and the entire baseball operations are all pointed to working hard to July 31."
Thursday's trade to Theo Epstein's Cubs was not a "bold" move by any means, but it might not be the only trade Boston makes in the coming weeks.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said he likes the way his current team is constructed, though he would not be opposed to any trades that could improve the squad.
"I like my team. I like my pitching. I like our offense, our defense," Valentine said. "If [Cherington] feels that there's a way of improving on what we have, I'll be all for that, too. But I don't see any gaping holes on our team. All I can tell you is that Ben works as hard, as much, as diligently as anybody I've ever been around. If there's something he can do to improve our team, I'm sure he's going to do it. I don't know that there'll be one thing or many things or no things. But I'll guarantee you all avenues will be explored."
Ortiz hopes to take swings as soon as Friday
BOSTON -- David Ortiz was in good spirits on Thursday afternoon despite missing his third straight game with a strained right Achilles tendon.
With a new walking boot covering his right foot, Ortiz spoke about being the latest Red Sox star to have a stint on the disabled list.
"It's something we've been dealing with all year; one comes in and another one goes out," the slugger said. "It is what it is. I want to be on the field. I'm a little frustrated especially having some guys come back and the way things are going."
The Red Sox placed Ortiz on the DL on Wednesday and then promptly beat the White Sox, 10-1, without their best hitter.
"That's the best thing that can happen to somebody like myself going to the DL," said Ortiz, who leads Boston with a .316 average, 23 homers, 58 RBIs and a .414 on-base percentage. "Just watching the guys holding on to it and providing wins, I don't feel that guilty."
Despite having his right foot immobilized, Ortiz expects to take some light swings in the batting cage on Friday.
"I think I might be hitting tomorrow," he said. "The doctor told me yesterday that I would be able to take some swings. This boot kind of rotates, so I think I'll be fine."
Ortiz doesn't think he will be out longer than 15 days. He'll wear the walking boot for the next four to five days and receive constant treatment.
"I just want to make sure that I get the best of the best out of this, make sure I'm not going to feel it again," Ortiz said. "Just wait a couple of weeks and get it treated and I'll be fine. Hopefully everything goes well. I've been feeling better every day, less sore and it seems like we're going to be fine."
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.