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.