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Red Sox notebook

Going along for the ride

Crisp, Kielty will make Japan trip

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Jackie MacMullan
Globe Staff / March 19, 2008

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Outfielders Coco Crisp and Bobby Kielty took some cuts in mini-games at the minor league complex yesterday, declared their participation pain-free, then got the news that they will make the trip to Tokyo with the Red Sox following one final Grapefruit League game today.

Crisp, who has been battling a groin injury, hit a home run over the right-field fence against Double A righthander Mike James. In his previous three at-bats, he had popped to short, popped to first, and grounded out. He walked his final time up and planned to steal, but Julio Lugo hit a liner to second and he was doubled off. On Monday, Crisp tried to steal second but, in his words, he was "thrown out by about 50 feet."

"But it felt good pushing and digging, and doing all that," he reported.

The veteran outfielder, who lost his center field spot to Jacoby Ellsbury in the 2007 postseason, said manager Terry Francona told him he'd see action in the team's two exhibition games in Japan.

"The last four days have been very kind to me," Crisp said. "Am I 100 percent? I don't know. I haven't kicked it in yet. But I didn't feel it [the groin] at all today. Does that mean I'm 100 percent? It's still sore to the touch, almost like a bruise, so I guess not."

Crisp said he felt well enough that he could play nine innings, but Francona said later, "We don't think he's ready to play just yet, but we'll take him with us so he can do his baseball activities. He might even be activated. We'll see."

Kielty, who has been struggling with a calf injury, banged out a single yesterday and looked comfortable running the base paths. He is on a nonguaranteed contract, and his future likely hinges on whether Crisp remains with the Sox or is traded.

He acknowledged his injury has been "stressing me out," and said it was a relief to feel no pain yesterday.

"I was pretty fired up to run the way I did," Kielty said. "I feel dramatically better. I've definitely turned the corner."

A starting lineup

Major League Baseball is cutting the Red Sox a small break when it comes to roster requirements for the trip. The team will take 30 players overseas: 13 pitchers, 3 catchers, 8 infielders, and 6 outfielders.

That means Francona will take nine relievers: Jonathan Papelbon, Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, Mike Timlin, Kyle Snyder, Javier Lopez, Julian Tavarez, Bryan Corey, and David Aardsma. The notable absence is lefty Craig Breslow, who gave up 4 hits, 5 runs, with 7 walks and 6 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings of spring training work for an ERA of 6.75.

By the time the Red Sox officially submit their final 25-man roster, which they must do before they play Oakland back in the States April 1, that group of relievers likely will be pared to seven.

The Sox will play exhibition games against Japanese teams in Tokyo Saturday and Sunday, then open the regular season Tuesday and Wednesday against Oakland. They must declare three players inactive for that series.

Since Tim Wakefield and Clay Buchholz are scheduled to pitch the exhibition games, you can mark them down as two of the likely inactives.

Spring swings

Lugo, who has been fighting lower back issues, had another productive day at the plate, also at the minor league complex. "Lugo is a little further along than those other guys [Crisp and Kielty]," Francona reported . . . Shortstop Jed Lowrie is on the roster for Japan . . . Doug Mirabelli, who was released last week, showed up in the clubhouse yesterday to clean out his locker. Asked for a comment, the veteran smiled politely and said, "I think that's old news. Let's leave it alone." . . . Curt Schilling will make the trip to Japan but will not count as a member of the 30-man roster, since he is on the 60-day disabled list. Schilling said he plans to continue his workouts in Japan, as well as visit a military base and some local ALS chapters . . . Among the many brown parcels packed and labeled in the clubhouse were eight boxes marked "Japan gum."

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