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8/21/2014 11:40 P.M. ET

Earlier than expected, Craig back in action

BOSTON -- On Thursday, one day earlier than expected, Allen Craig returned to the Boston lineup. The right-handed hitter, who played just one game after being acquired from St. Louis before going on the disabled list, batted fifth and served as the designated hitter, going 0-for-3 in a 2-0 loss.

The original plan was for Craig to play one more rehab game at Triple-A Pawtucket, but with Will Middlebrooks and Mike Napoli banged up the past couple of days and David Ortiz getting a day of rest, the decision was made to speed up his return.

The Red Sox will use the final 36 games of the season to get a handle on where Craig is not only offensively but from a physical standpoint.

Craig is just coming off a sprain of his left foot, the same foot that gave him so many problems late last season.

"The injury he had last year was something that was given rest and recovery rather than a repair," said manager John Farrell. "Probably as much to do with [the Cardinals'] stretch into the postseason. I guess it's debatable whether a repair was needed or recommended. They chose the conservative path. ... What he was feeling wasn't a result of the actual previous injury. But does the previous injury still give some instability? That's again, debatable."

The Red Sox will re-evaluate Craig once the season ends to determine the best course of action for the offseason.

"I think it depends on how he responds to the consistent play during the rest of this schedule," said Farrell.

Craig had been a solid offensive performer in recent years before a considerable dip with the Cardinals this season prior to the trade.

The Red Sox look forward to getting a closer look.

"I think any time you acquire a new player, you want to see them first-hand and see them on the field, and now we have the opportunity to have that play out," said Farrell.

Craig played in two rehab games for Triple-A Pawtucket, including one on Wednesday night, when he went 1-for-3 with a two-run single and scored a run. He went 0-for-2 with a walk in his rehab game on Monday night.

Including his time with the Cardinals, Craig has a .237/.291/.348 slash line, with seven home runs and 44 RBIs in 98 games this season.

To make room for Craig on the roster, the Red Sox optioned Alex Hassan to Triple-A.

Ortiz's numbers belie his age, Boston's standing

BOSTON -- With a torrid David Ortiz out of the lineup on Thursday, there's a chance to reflect on what the slugger has done of late, and all season.

For starters, consider that Ortiz reached base four times in each of the last three games against the Angels, turning in an aggregate line of 8-for-10, with four walks and two homers.

No Red Sox player had reached base four times in three straight games since Johnny Damon from June 3-5, 2002.

To Ortiz, however, the streak didn't really feel like anything out of the ordinary.

"I thought that was just what you guys watched in the World Series. Didn't I do the same thing then?" said Ortiz.

Ortiz was referring to his utter destruction of the Cardinals last fall, when he hit .688 with a .760 on-base percentage and 1.948 OPS.

"There's no magic for this, remember that," said Ortiz, who rested on Thursday with the Red Sox in the middle of a stretch of 17 games without a day off.

What people might not know about Ortiz is the type of work he is doing behind the scenes to be able to hit at such a high level at the age of 38.

"Every day before BP, when you watch him work out, [you see the] reason he's able to maintain some level of durability," said manager John Farrell. "He works his tail off."

The fact that Ortiz led the Majors with 93 RBIs entering Thursday was fairly astounding when you consider the Red Sox are last in the American League in runs scored.

Ortiz could become just the second Major Leaguer to lead the league in RBIs for a team that finished last in runs scored. The first is Wally Berger, who had 130 in 1935 for the Boston Braves.

"He's having a landmark year," said Farrell.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.