Notes: Crawford return set for Monday at Baltimore

191542.jpg

Notes: Crawford return set for Monday at Baltimore

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Outfielder Carl Crawford worked out at Fenway on Thursday and will join the Pawtucket Red Sox for a two-game rehab stint, then travel to Baltimore Sunday in anticipation of being activated Monday for the three-game set with the Orioles.

Crawford is scheduled to play left field for both games with the PawSox.

"I told him to just get comfortable," said Francona.

"There's no reason for him to play nine (innings). It's completely up to him."

Crawford has been on the DL for the last three weeks with a strained hamstring and the Sox didn't want to risk having him return to Tropicana Field which has an artificial playing surface.

Jon Lester, who has been sidelined with a lat pull suffered on July 5, began a throwing program Thursday at Fenway and is due to rejoin his teammates here Friday.

Meanwhile, Clay Buchholz, on the DL with back spasms, was to be examined Thursday by the training staff. He'll begin long-tossing here this weekend and gradually begin re-building his arm strength.

The Red Sox won six in a row and 10-of-11 before the break and the hope is that they can continue that momentum even in the face of a four-day layoff.

"It's still all part of the same season," Jason Varitek said. "This team slowly has developed into who we are. It didn't start off too well but we've been able to maintain that consistency lately.

"But the week before that, we lost six-of-eight. When we pitch well, first and foremost, it presents us with lots of opportunities. We don't have to score 10-15 runs per game (to win)."

Francona was asked if the American League's 5-1 loss in the All-Star Game "concerned" him, since it means the National League champions will have home field advantage in the World Series.

"No, because it's July," he said. "I hope that someday it does concern me."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada sometimes eats 85 Twinkies a week

A hungry ballplayer: Ex-Sox prospect Moncada sometimes eats 85 Twinkies a week

This isn’t your average young and hungry player on the brink of the big leagues.

Yoan Moncada, the ex-Red Sox prospect who was one of the principal pieces in the trade for Chris Sale, has sometimes eaten as many as 85 Twinkies in a week, his agent told ESPN The Magazine

He's still in great shape. Moncada had a huge spring training with the White Sox after a disappointing major-league debut with Boston in September. 

"It's fair to say that Yoan took it as a very personal rejection," his agent, David Hastings, told ESPN The Magazine.

The 21-year-old third baseman has been optioned out of big-league camp, so he’s slated to start the year in Triple-A. But he hit .317 with a .391 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage and 3 home runs in 41 at-bats.

Moncada took a $31.5 million signing bonus from the Red Sox, money that the Sox turned into Sale. Moncada, meanwhile, didn’t exactly invest every cent.

Twinkies weren’t his only overindulgence. Per the ESPN The Magazine story, Moncada placed a call in 2015 inquiring about 10 customized cars. 

More from the story: 

Moncada had money to spend on drones, video games, toys and clothes. He sometimes spent $1,500 or more during nights out, David says. After he purchased the second $200,000 car, Josefa [Hastings, David’s wife] tried to talk some sense into him.

"You are being an idiot, just wasting all this money," she told him. "What are you even thinking?”

"Go big or go home," he told her with a smile.

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

Drellich: Bogaerts should start season in second half of lineup

The Red Sox need to let their lineup sort itself out a bit, and really, need to see how one core player in particular fares: Xander Bogaerts. 
 
Until then, Red Sox manager John Farrell should try to alternate right- and left-handed hitters as much as possible against right-handed pitching
 
If Thursday’s Grapefruit League lineup indeed winds up as a preview for the regular season, Farrell’s on the right track.
 
1. Dustin Pedroia 2B
2. Andrew Benintendi LF
3. Mookie Betts RF
4. Hanley Ramirez DH
5. Mitch Moreland 1B
6. Xander Bogaerts SS
7. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
8. Pablo Sandoval 3B
9. Blake Swihart C
 
Sandy Leon or Christian Vazquez should be at catcher normally, rather than Swihart. (If Leon shows he can in fact hit again, the Sox could also decide to put Jackie Bradley Jr. in the nine-hole.)
 
"Maybe a first look at our lineup," manager John Farrell told reporters in Florida. "I'm not saying this is Opening Day, but this is potential for one on Opening Day. And just to get everybody back in the rhythm. We've kind of fragmented because of the WBC and because of travel and bouncing around the state. To get our camp finally together, I think we're all looking forward to these last remaining games."
 
Betts is the best all-around producer the Red Sox have. He should be in the three-hole, despite chatter than Andrew Benintendi might be a fit.
 
But Bogaerts’ success will determine a lot of the flexibility available to Farrell. (Yes, everybody has to be healthy for the above statement to be true. And remember, lineups are important, but probably not as important as we’ve all been raised to believe). 

If Bogaerts plays like he did in the first half, when he batted .329 en route to an All-Star appearance, he could easily slide into the three-hole, and push Betts into the second or fourth spot. Or even leadoff.
 
If Bogaerts is the .253 hitter he was after the All-Star break, well, the second half of the lineup is where he belongs. 
 
Bogaerts is, ultimately, better than he showed as both he and the season wore down. But let him establish himself in a groove before you start loading up the top of the lineup with right-handed hitters, thereby giving opposing managers a clear path for righty relievers.
 
(The Red Sox could pinch hit Chris Young at any time, but you’re usually not taking out one of your best players just for a platoon advantage.)
 
And from another perspective, you almost need Bogaerts in the second half of the lineup. Because what else is there?
 
Say the Sox load all four right-handed hitters at the top.
 
1. Pedroia
2. Bogaerts
3. Betts
4. Ramirez 
 
That’s awesome. Then what? Benintendi and cross your fingers? Benintendi seems as sure a thing as any sophomore — well, technically a rookie — can be. But still.
 
This is where Moreland and Sandoval represent other X-factors. All spring, there’s been talk of how Fenway Park and a use-all-fields approach will benefit Moreland. That may be so — but to what extent? How much better can he reasonably be? The Sox are internally encouraged.
 
As it stands now, however, there’s no obvious choice to protect Ramirez, considering Moreland is coming off a season where he had a .293 on-base percentage against righties.
 
And with Sandoval, whether he’s anything more than a wet napkin vs. left-handed pitching is to be seen. There’s reason to believe he can handle right-handed pitchers at least adequately, so he'll get the start — but he could be the first guy pinch hit for nightly.