Red Sox notes: Crawford suffers hamstring strain

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Red Sox notes: Crawford suffers hamstring strain

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON - Carl Crawford doesnt know exactly how he injured his hamstring, but now he will have to wait and see when he can play again.

Crawford left Fridays game against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning after coming up limping while running to first base. He left the game and received an MRI, which revealed a Grade 1 strain.

I hurt it a little bit, so its a little sore right now, he said after the Red Sox 10-4 win.

Terry Francona said the team will meet with Crawford, trainers, and personnel to reevaluate his situation. In the meantime, Crawford will follow the prescribed treatment and stay optimistic for further evaluation on Saturday.

Ice it a few times and Ive got to wear this thing around my thigh tonight, he explained. And hopefully thatll make it feel better tomorrow.

John Lackey went eight innings, tying his longest outing of the season, and picked up his fifth win of the year. He improved to 3-0 since returning from the disabled list (right elbow sprain) on June 5.

Its a lot better, Lackey (5-5, 7.02 ERA) said. I just think everythings a little firmer, a little crisper for sure. Arm feels a lot better.

Despite giving up four earned runs in the first three innings, Lackey settled in for the next five and wrapped up his night with five strikeouts. He did not walk a single batter and threw a season-high 81 strikes.

Terry Francona was impressed with Lackeys performance.

I thought today was the best stuff he had, said Francona. I was really, really pleased. I know he gave up four runs early, but the ball was crisp. I thought he was getting extension and as the game progressed, he was down and he had a change in speeds. I thought he was good.

The victory marked Lackeys longest winning streak in consecutive starts with the Red Sox.

Injuries forced not only Crawford, but also Kevin Youkilis out of the game. Youkilis left in the top of the fifth inning due to stomach illness. Reserves Darnell McDonald and Drew Sutton stepped in for the starters, and stepped up to the task.

Both players had recently been recalled from Triple-A and made the most of their opportunities on Friday. McDonald recorded a run and an RBI while Sutton went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

Thats the good thing about this team, said Jacoby Ellsbury. Weve got guys that can come in and do a tremendous job.

The Red Sox have outscored their opponents, 100-46, in their last 13 games. They are 12-1 during that stretch.

Adrian Gonzalez (3-4, 3R) has reached base in 17 straight games and is batting .415 (27-for-65) in that span.

Ellsbury hit his fifth leadoff home run of his career and second of the season on Friday. He has already hit eight home runs this season, one short of his career-high set in 2008.

As a reminder, the start of Saturdays game has been moved to 7:10 p.m.

Left-hander Andrew Miller will be called up fromPawtucket to pitch against the Padres Monday at Fenway Park. Miller,who has started one game at Fenway in his career, is 1-1 in two careerstarts against the Padres, pitching a combined 11 innings, giving upsix runs on 10 hits and six walks with nine strikeouts.

The Sox dont need to make a roster move until Miller is called up Monday.

Shortstop Jed Lowrie was placed on the disabled list, with Drew Sutton getting called back from Pawtucket.

Jedgot an MRI this morning and actually the MRI was pretty good, Franconasaid. Structurally it didn't look like there was any significantdamage, which is really good. I think any time you look at a playersshoulder youre going to see somethings going on. So were going tohave the MRIs sent to Dr. Lewis Yocum as kind of a backup. Let himlook, also. And give him some rest and treatment and see how quickly wecan progress with him. Regardless of what we found, when you take aswing like that and it hurts like that we better slow him down a littlebit.

Its a strain. He had the bruising back there and then youget some weakness because of it. I think thats probably why he feltthere was either a mild subluxation or maybe not, but that was thefeeling. You get swelling, you get bruising and you lose strength. Soregardless of what we call it we need to get that thing stronger and todo that we need to let it settle down first and then get him on apretty good strength program so he can go out there and play and nothave a chance of that happening.

Clay Buchholz said his back, which caused him to leave his start Thursday in Tampa Bay after five innings, was feeling better.

"Today was the first day," he said. "It's going to be a day-to-day thing. If it was 40 percent last night, today it's 60 percent. So it's gotten better. That's definitely a good thing. At least we're moving forward, not moving back.

"I went in Friday and iced and stretched out a little bit, but didn't want to do anything too tough with it just for the fact that if it was that muscle spasm, didn't want to make it any worse.

"It's been a nagging thing. It happened last year. The adrenaline takes over when you get out there, but it's the days in between where you feel like you're not going to be able to go out there and compete. That's what sucks for anybody, whenever they know they want to go out there, they don't want to miss any starts, they don't want to be on the DL and have to deal with something nagging like this."

Daisuke Matsuzaka is scheduled for a check-up with Dr. Yocum, whoperformed his Tommy John surgery, on Monday and then travel to FortMyers to begin his rehab program.

The reason for that is thathe can get consistent, Francona said. Hes not seeing somebody uphere when were home and somebody when were on the road. So itll allbe consistent.

Rich Hill, who also had Tommy John surgery,will stay in the Boston area for his rehab. Hill, a native of Milton,Mass., said his new arm angle had nothing to do with his injury.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCamerato

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

Bean: There's no way to spin a potential Ortiz return as a bad idea

As if there weren’t enough storylines with the 2017 Red Sox, there figures to be the lingering possibility that, at any point, one of the franchise’s greatest hitters will return to make a push for his fourth World Series title.

As Pedro Martinez keeps saying, he won’t believe David Ortiz is retired until season’s end.

And with that possibility comes a good ol’ fashioned sports debate: You’re maybe the biggest lunatic in the whole wide world if you’re hoping for the latter.

There are exactly two potential downsides to Ortiz coming back. One is that the team would be worse defensively if it puts Hanley Ramirez in the field, a tradeoff that seemingly anyone would take if it meant adding Ortiz’ offense to the middle of the order. The other is that we would probably have to see Kenan Thompson’s Ortiz impression again . . . which, come to think of it, would be the worst. Actually, I might kill myself if that happens.  

All the other drawbacks are varying degrees of noise. It basically boils down to the “what if he isn’t good?” fear. Which may be valid, but it shouldn’t be reason enough to not want him to attempt a comeback.

Ortiz is coming off a 38-homer, 127-RBI 2016 in which he hit .315 with a league-best 1.021 OPS. It's probably the best final season of any hitter over the last 50 years.

We also know Ortiz is 41 and dealt with ankle and heel injuries so vast in recent years that he was “playing on stumps,” according to Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek. There is the possibility that he was almost literally on his last legs in 2016 and that he doesn’t have another great season in him.

Unless Ortiz is medically incapable and/or not interested in returning, what would the harm be in rolling the dice? Is it a money thing? It really depends on just how intent the Sox are on staying under the luxury-tax threshold, but it’s hard to imagine that holding them up given that they’ve bobbed over and under the line throughout the years.

The one unacceptable argument is the legacy stuff, which expresses concern that Ortiz would tarnish his overall body of work if he came back for one last season and was relatively ineffective.  

If you think that five years after Ortiz is done playing, a single person will say, “Yeah, he’s a Hall of Famer; it’s just a shame he came back that for one last season,” you’re absolutely crazy. The fact that one could dwell that much on a legacy shows how much they romanticize the player, meaning that in however many years it's the 40-homer seasons, and not the potentially underwhelming few months in 2017, that will stand the test of time.

But he’ll have thrown away having one of the best final seasons ever for a hitter.

Oh man. That’s a life-ruiner right there. A 10-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion totally becomes just another guy if you take that away.

Plus, the fact that he’s a DH limits how bad it could really be. You won’t get the sight of an over-the-hill Willie Mays misplaying fly balls in the 1973 World Series after hitting .211 in the regular season. Ortiz will either be able to hit or he won’t, and if it’s the latter they’ll chalk it up to age and injuries and sit him down. Any potential decision to put him on the field in a World Series would likely mean his bat was worth it enough to get them to that point.

The Red Sox, on paper at least, have a real shot at another title. Teams in such a position should always go for broke. Ortiz has absolutely nothing left to prove, but if he thinks he has anything left to give, nobody but the fans who dropped 30-something bucks on T-shirts commemorating his retirement should have a problem with that.