Crawford finally getting comfortable at the plate

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Crawford finally getting comfortable at the plate

By MaureenMullen
CSNNE.com

DETROIT -- Asked if a .244 batting average ever felt so good, Carl Crawford smiled before replying.

Nah, he said. But I got to take what I can get right now.

In the last two games, Crawford has been taking more than his share. Thursday against the Tigers, he went 4-for-5 with two triples, two runs scored, and three RBI. In his last two games combined, he has gone 8-for-9 with two doubles, two triples, a home run, five runs scored, and five RBI, raising his average to .244, his high-water mark for the season.

We talked about it, said manager Terry Francona. We said we were going to enjoy it. Its been two days in a row where its four hits, and theyre good swings. They werent at pitches out of the strike zone. Hes pulling balls in the gap. Using his legs. It was a matter of time but its certainly nice to see.

In the past four games, Crawford has gone 10-for-16 (.625) with eight runs scored, six RBI, two doubles, two triples, two home runs, two walks, one strikeout and one stolen base. In that time he has raised his average 35 points (from .209), his on-base percentage 34 points (from .243 to .277), and his slugging percentage 91 points (from .277 to .368).

Its starting to be fun for him.

It feels real good just to be able to hit the ball and play like yourself, he said. I havent felt that way in a long time. So to have that feeling back for a few days feels great.

It feels great to be winning. The teams hitting. Everybodys playing well and contributing. Everybody's swinging the bats well. We just hope we can keep that going.

Just feeling a little bit more comfortable at the plate, trying to really get my pitch to hit and not missing it when I do get a chance to drive the ball.

Being more comfortable, more relaxed at the plate makes a big difference for a hitter.

I dont disagree with that, Francona said. I think its hard when youre struggling. Its like when we were 2-11 or 2-10, we talked about it all the time: You got to be strong enough to look up there and realize that well straighten this out. But it takes some patience and all of a sudden you get in that mode and you want to go 3-for-1 as a hitter. It doesnt work.

But these last couple of days, theyll do him a world of good. Regardless of what youre hitting, if you feel like youre going in one direction, its better. And he certainly feels that way. The weathers warmed up somewhat and I think that helps him. Hes got his legs under him. You can see the swings hes taking. Theyre good swings. But I think now he can go out and play.

Two of Crawfords four hits Thursday were triples. He now has eight two-triple games, the last on July 26, 2008, while with the Rays against the Royals. Its ironic he would add to that count on Thursday, because he was a triple shy of the cycle when he went 4-for-4 on Wednesday in Cleveland.

I guess, a day late, said Crawford.

But for the Sox, who moved into a first-place tie with the Yankees, who were off Thursday, its right on time.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter athttp:twitter.commaureenamullen

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Red Sox claim right-hander Doug Fister off waivers

Right-handed starter Doug Fister, who opted out of his contract with the Angels, has been claimed off waivers by the Red Sox, CSN Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich has confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, who writes that Fister, 33, will join the Red Sox immediately.

Fister opted out of with the Angels after three Triple-A starts in Salt Lake City, where he allowed seven runs on 16 hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. 

With Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson on the DL, the Red Sox need immediate starting pitching help. Triple-A Pawtucket call-up Hector Velazquez made a spot start earlier this week in the fifth spot behind Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price and Drew Pomeranz. 

Fister will receive $1.75 million in the majors from the Red Sox, with $1.2 million available in additional incentives, according to Cotillo. 

Fister has pitched eight seasons in the majors, including 2016 with the Astros, going 12-13 with 4.64 ERA in 180 1/3 innings. His best season was 2014 with the Nationals (16-6, 2.41 ERA).