Valentine: Lester 'looked great,' team 'playing it by ear' with Crawford

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Valentine: Lester 'looked great,' team 'playing it by ear' with Crawford

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Despite manager Bobby Valentine's decision to lift outfielder Carl Crawford from a tie game out of fear for his left (throwing) elbow in the late innings, the manager said he's not likely to use Crawford in the DH spot while David Ortiz is on the disabled list. "I don't think that it's time,'' said Valentine. "We've got to get Carl playing and into the swing of things. I mean, it's not like there wasn't a thought of it. We thought it and negated it.'' Crawford was hitting seventh in the Red Sox batting order again for a second straight night, with Pedro Ciriaco serving as the DH in the second spot against Texas lefty starter Derek Holland. "I think Pedro offers a little something offensively that I like in there,'' said Valentine of Ciriaco's role as temporary DH. "With Carl DHing, that means Pedro wouldn't.'' As for how to handle Crawford in the outfield, Valentine acknowledged that the Sox were ''playing it by ear. This is all a learning experience. We'll just learn as we go. But I'm just trying to do the smart thing and not put anybody in a position to fail, but putting people in a position to succeed. This isn't a test.''

-- Jon Lester, set to start the middle game of the upcoming series at Yankee Stadium, had what Valentine termed "a long throwing session,'' Wednesday at The Ballpark. "He said he felt great and to me, he looked great,'' said Valentine. Lester had the worst start of his major league career Sunday, allowing 11 runs in just four innings. He's allowed 21 runs in his last 12 13 innings, covering three starts. "He just wanted to get a feel for what the hitters were seeing (off him),'' said Valentine. "I talked to the hitters and they said they saw great stuff. It wasn't like they saw anything that made them thinkthat (Lester) should change anything.''
-- Daisuke Matsuzaka (trapezeus muscle) also threw a bullpen session and according to Valentine, "threw the best that he's thrown in a long time.''

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

Red Sox can't rally against Rays after Chris Archer's start

The appearance of Tampa Bay Rays lefty Ryan Yarbrough almost got the Boston Red Sox back in their spring training exhibition game. The Sox managed to score all three of their runs against the 25-year-old in their 7-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Florida on Sunday.

But the Rays, who scored runs in five different innings, managed to widen their lead in the eighth inning by beating up on Sox lefty Luis Isla, a 24-year-old who spent last season with Portland and Pawtucket. In the eighth, Rays' Joe McCarthy homered and Luke Maile managed an RBI single, which cappped off the scoring in the contest. Sox starter Hector Velazquez allowed three hits and an earned run in his two innnings. The 28-year-old, who spent 2016 in the Mexican League, still managed to amass four strikeouts.

"I was a little nervous at the start, being in the United States for the first time and playing for a big league club for the first time," Velazquez told RedSox.com through an interpreter. "But once I got the first out, all the nerves went away, and I was able to bear down."

Despite allowing two homers, Boston pitchers combined for 14 strikeouts.

With the exception of the Sox' inning against Yarbrough, Boston's veterans and prospects struggled mighltily against the Rays pitching staff. Chris Archer started for Tampa, and set the tone in the first two innings, where he threw two strikeouts, one walk and allowed one hit and no runs. Andrew Benintendi (0-for-3), Sam Travis (0-for-2) and Bryce Brentz (0-for-3) went hitless on the day. Travis, however, reached base on balls.

"I felt good. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish," Archer said, via the Red Sox' team website. "Just out there having fun, it was really fun to be out there in the spectrum with the umpire, the fans, the batter. It was fun."

Marco Hernandez's triple got the Sox' eighth-inning off to a strong start, and singles from Matt Dominguez, Deven Marrero, Rusney Castillo and Cole Sturgeon followed. The Sox' eighth inning scoring ended after Castillo got thrown out by left fielder McCarthy at third. Six Red Sox finished with one-hit outings, including Brock Holt and Blake Swihart.

The Sox will next host the St. Louis Cardinals in Fort Myers on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET.