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."