Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

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Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

With the news that Carl Crawford underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left wrist Tuesday and may not be ready for Opening Day, the Red Sox, who were already challenged by their outfield depth, face an even bigger challenge.

The Sox currently have outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles, in addition to Crawford,on their 40-man roster. Kalish missed most of last season because of injuries, underwent surgery on his neck and shoulder this offseason, and is not expected to be available until June. Lin was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last season and added to the 40-man in November. Aviles appeared in five games in the outfield for the Sox last season for the first time in his professional career, but has played in Puerto Rico this offseason to game some more experience there.

We expect Carl to be back and recovered from this hopefully early in the season, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on a conference call Tuesday. So we dont think it changes much with regard to the outfield mix. Well certainly keep our eyes open if theres way to sort of protect ourselves. Well look for that between now and spring training. But right now we feel like we have some options even if Carls not ready quite on Opening Day.

Certainly Ellsbury will be in center. Sweeney will be a big part of our outfield mix. We still have Darnell on the roster, whos done a very good job. We sent Aviles to Puerto Rico to play some outfield. So hell, Im sure, see some time out there during spring training. And, again, if theres ways to build depth and add to that mix between now and spring training or during spring training, well certainly keep our eyes open for that. But dont think this changes much in terms of the outfield mix, the overall outfield mix for the 2012 season.

Whether Aviles will see more time in the outfield or infield this season remains to be seen. The same day the Sox lost infielder Jed Lowrie in a trade with the Astros in December for right-hander Mark Melancon, they signed infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.

I think time will tell, Cherington said. But we have Punto and Puntos done a really good job as a utility infielder and good defender at a bunch of different spots. We know Aviles can play the infield. Outfield is newer to him. He got exposed, as you guys know, a little bit last year. But then he played more this winter in Puerto Rico and I expect hell get some work out there in spring training and well just have to keep watching.
"But hes a guy that we want to try to get on the field because we think he can hit, we think he can help us. So perhaps thats an opportunity for him to do that. But thats something that manager Bobby Valentine and the staff will work out during spring training.

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

WATCH: Celtics vs. Hornets

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Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

Celtics-Hornets preview: Boston, Charlotte heading in opposite directions

BOSTON -- The last time Boston saw the Charlotte Hornets last month, both teams were streaking in the wrong direction with each coming in having lost three in a row.

Both come into tonight’s game streaking, although in two very different directions.

Boston (25-15) has won 12 of its last 15 games to firmly establish itself as the third-best team in the East behind Cleveland and Toronto. Meanwhile the Hornets (20-20) are on the cusp of falling below .500 for the first time this season after losing their last four games.

Still, Celtics coach Brad Stevens has seen enough of this Hornets team to know that a win tonight won’t come easily.

“This is a good team,” Stevens said. “We all know Charlotte. They don’t beat themselves. We’ve had to play really well against those guys. This is going to be a tough one, as we all know.”

Figuring out why these two teams are trending in opposite directions isn’t all that complicated.

For the Celtics, their success of late has hinged heavily on their ability to make 3-pointers. Meanwhile, Charlotte’s problems have had a lot to do with a tough slate of road games (all four of their recent losses were on the road) and their inability to make shots which has been an issue in some form for them all season regardless of the opponent.

Look at the last four games, all of which the Hornets lost while the Celtics won three of their four games in that span.

The Hornets rank 21st in scoring with a 101.5 points per game average while the Celtics average 110.8 points which ranks 8th in the league.

Charlotte ranks dead-last in the league the last four games when it comes to shooting the ball (40.5 percent), while Boston comes in 18th at 46.0 percent.

But it’s the 3-point shot and its impact on having an effective field goal percentage, that really separates these two.

Boston has averaged a league-best 15.3 made 3-pointers in the last four games while the Hornets and their 9.8 made 3’s ranks 20th.

And as far as its impact on eFG%, Boston comes in with the eighth-best eFG% in the league (54.8 percent) while the Hornets next-to-last in the NBA with an eFG% of .462.

So what does that mean tonight?

Boston will look to continue being fueled offensively by good ball movement and attacking the rim which in turn should result in lots of good looks from 3-point range which is clearly a strength of this team.

Charlotte will search for other sources of offense besides former UConn star Kemba Walker who is on the short list of candidates for a spot on this year’s Eastern Conference all-star roster.

As was the case in Charlotte’s 102-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, an off-night shooting for Walker (17 points, 7-for-23 shooting with three assists) left the Hornets extremely vulnerable to defeat. Similar struggles tonight will provide a similar ending for Charlotte which would allow both teams to continue streaking along … something the Celtics wouldn’t mind at all.