Notes: Crawford's bat heats up vs. Sabathia


Notes: Crawford's bat heats up vs. Sabathia

By Maureen Mullen Follow @maureenamullen
By Joe Haggerty Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Carl Crawfords first season in a Red Sox uniform has not been an easy one, marred by under-performance and a 24-game stint on the disabled list.

But a 4-for-4 game against the team with the best record in the American League can go a long way to boosting confidence. Crawford did just that, including three hits, two runs scored, and an RBI against Yankees ace CC Sabathia, as the Sox pounded the Yankees 10-4 at Fenway Park.

Sabathia entered the game holding left-handed hitters to a .183 average (30-for-164) with just five extra-base hits three doubles, a triple, and a home run. Crawford added to Sabathias total, leading off the third inning with a double to left field. The four hits match a season high for the fourth time, the last on w June 4 against the As. His three runs scored also match a season high (on May 25 at Cleveland).

The three hits off Sabathia were the first time hes had three hits against left-handed pitching since Sept. 19, 2010, against the Angels while with the Rays.

It feels good, to be consistent off a lefty for a day, said Crawford, who added his 13th stolen base of the season in the eighth inning.

Whenever you can get three hits off a pitcher like Sabathia you feel good about yourself at the end.

Going back to his last two at-bats Friday, Crawford now has hits in six straight plate appearances, with two doubles and four singles, boosting his average to .254. Three of his hits Saturday went the opposite way, to left field.

Today especially against one of the tougher lefties in the league, manager Terry Francona said. The first pitch he hits the ball off the wall. He shoots the ball the other way. If he wants to get hot, kind of like with Jacoby Ellsbury up at the top of the order, were a different team. Gives us a little bit different look.

Those were good swings. You want to be rewarded. You feel better when you're rewarded for good swings and he starts banging the ball off the wall, gets on base, things happen. Its good for everybody.

Crawford is now hitting .313 (21-for-67) in his career against Sabathia.

Just got to try to get a pitch you can handle, Crawford said. He throws a fastball in the mid 90s and he throws a tight slider. So its tough to get a pitch to hit and you just got to try to focus and get a pitch you can handle.

Crawford is hopeful games and at-bats like these can help to spark the remainder of his season, getting him closer to the .293 career average hes posted.

I cant give up, he said. I always got to have positive thoughts about making the season better for me as best as I can. So I definitely have that in my mind.

For the first time since he was at Concordia College in Middletown, NY, Mike Aviles will be playing the outfield. Drafted in the seventh round in 2003 by the Royals, Aviles has been strictly an infielder in both the minors and majors. But he is playing in Fenways expansive right field, batting sixth for the Red Sox against the Yankees Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Aviles, a right-handed hitter, is 5-for-10 (.500) with a double and an RBI in his career against Yankees starter, lefty CC Sabathia. Darnell McDonald, also a right-handed hitter, is just 1-for-10 (.100), a home run, against Sabathia.

When we acquired Aviles we talked about maybe putting him in the outfield, manager Terry Francona said. We spoke to him the other day. I said, Hey, how do you feel about playing the outfield, most likely right field? And he came right back at me and said, One thing you need to know about me: Im arrogant and Im confident. I said, Does that mean youll play right? and he said, Yeah. So with CC pitching, Mac had done very little against him and were trying to get as much offense as we can. This kids pretty athletic. You know what? If he messes up a ball, Ill answer the questions.

I just think moving forward this has a chance to help us with his versatility and seemed like a good day to do it. Hes been out there every day shagging balls and he feels like hes fine. Like I said, if he messes a ball up, Ill answer the questions.

If he would have said, Im not comfortable, I wouldnt have done it, obviously. But hes a pretty athletic, good kid. Its not like we got Doug Mientkiewicz at second base. This is something thats going to help us. Were a player short right now so the idea that he can go out there really gives us an extra player.

Despite the long time between playing the outfield, Aviles said he is comfortable.

I would say Im pretty good at it, Aviles said. Ive been out there every day doing my fly balls and stuff like that. Ive been working on it and its something I just got to go out and do. I feel good, so well see how it goes.

His numbers against Sabathia helped the decision.

Ive had some good at-bats against him, Aviles said So if thats the case, it works for me, it gets me in the lineup. Thats the biggest thing is just trying to get in the lineup and do my part.

Kevin Youkilis doubled in the fourth inning and is now hitting .368 (14-for-38) against C.C. Sabathia in his career, which is tops among all batters with at least 35 ABs against the lefty. Seven of those 14 hits have gone for extra bases over his career (three doubles, two triples and two home runs).

David Ortiz had some pretty interesting baseball philosophy after the 10-4 victory over the Yankees, and seemed to indicate that C.C. Sabathia had his good stuff despite getting batted around by the Sox offense. Ortiz may have a future as the Big Socrates rather than the Big Papi after breaking things down for reporters in the Sox clubhouse.

Funny things happen in baseball. Its a round thing coming in a square box. Its the truth! People think they have things figured out in baseball. You dont have anything figured out, bro, said Ortiz. The day that you feel great out there you go 0-for-5 and you get your butt whipped by the pitcher. The day you feel like expletive you get five hits. Im telling you.

Adrian Gonzalez finished Saturday afternoons win with a 1-for-4 performance at the plate, but he was a stand-out manning his first base position. He made a diving play early in the game, and made a nifty little option toss to John Lackey covering first base in the following inning when it was still a close ballgame. Gonzalez finished with five assists in the game.

Jed Lowrie went 3-for-5 with three doubles while batting right-handed in Saturday afternoons game for Triple-A Pawtucket, and appears ready to meet with the team on Sunday for activation prior the upcoming road trip. Lowrie finished the rehab stint with a 7-for-17 performance at the plate with four doubles for the PawSox. The switch-hitting shortstop now has Sunday off in anticipation of playing back with Boston next week.

J.D. Drew, on the disabled list since July 20 with a left shoulder impingement, has been making progress.

He hit off the tee yesterday, first time, Francona said. Hell continue that today. Well see how that progresses. I dont think he feels like its going to be terribly long. From our side of it, hes been down a while. We want to make sure hes not only able to come back, but come back and be productive.

When guys are out for a while younot us--kind of tend to forget about them. We could get him back and get month or six weeks out of him. What a lift. We havent seen that yet.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Moreland not worried about filling Ortiz's shoes because 'there's no replacing him'

Moreland not worried about filling Ortiz's shoes because 'there's no replacing him'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Mitch Moreland knows he's likely the only new player in Boston's lineup since David Ortiz retired at the end of last season.

He's just not listening to those who say he needs to replace Big Papi's lofty production.

"I try not to hear it because there's no replacing that guy," said the 31-year-old first baseman, who signed a one-year, $5.5-million deal with the Red Sox during the offseason.

"I think it's going to be more of a team effort," he said. "Obviously we picked up two big arms as well, and it's a very balanced club."

After playing his first six-plus seasons in the majors with the Texas Rangers, Moreland is with a new organization for the first time in his career. So far, he said, the move has been smooth.

"They welcomed me from Day One," he said. "Handshakes and hugs right off the bat. It's going to be a lot of fun. You can see why they had so much success last year."

Coming off a subpar 2016 with a .233 batting average, 22 homers and 60 RBI, Moreland tested free agency. He wanted to go to a team that had a good chance at competing for a championship -- like he felt with the Rangers.

"Something that was at the top of my list as a player," he said. "If I was going to be on a team, I wanted a team that had a chance to win. It makes it that much more fun to come to the park every day when something's on the line and you're fighting for a chance to play in the playoffs, fighting to win the division and fighting to win a World Series."

A first-time Gold Glove winner last season, Moreland knows the defending A.L. East champion Red Sox wanted his defensive skills at first to allow Hanley Ramirez to shift to Ortiz's vacated DH spot.

"It gives you a little more confidence," Moreland said. "I take pride in that. That's going to be my main goal, to go out and show what they saw."

A left-handed batter like Ortiz, Moreland knows some people will expect him to fill the void offensively because of which side of the plate he bats from.

"I think it'll be a group effort picking up what will be missing," he said. "There's no replacing that guy."

Manager John Farrell also said the club needs to move on from Ortiz so Moreland and everyone else can relax and focus on their own game.

"David's effect on the lineup was felt by a number of people. We know opponents would game plan for David," Farrell said. "I think it's important for our guys - as we put David out of our mind, in a good way - that it's still a focus on what their strengths are in the strike zone."

The transition may be easy for Moreland so far, but one thing has certainly changed: spending spring training in Florida instead of Arizona.

"Fishing's a lot different than Arizona, so that's nice," he said.

NOTES: "We're getting a firsthand look to why he's been so successful and an elite pitcher," Farrell said after left-hander Chris Sale pitched batting practice. The Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox in an offseason trade for four prospects. They also acquired right-handed, hard-throwing setup man Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee . . . Farrell said righty Steven Wright, who missed the final two months of the season with a shoulder injury, "was unrestricted in his throwing." . . . The Red Sox will have a shorter workout Tuesday with the players association set to talk to the team and the organization's annual charity golf tournament in the afternoon.

Report from the Fort: Trenni and Lou discuss pitching

Report from the Fort: Trenni and Lou discuss pitching

Trenni Kusnierek and Lou Merloni comment on Tyler Thornburg's, Steven Wright's and Drew Pomeranz's work at Red Sox training camp on Monday.