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Red Sox notebook

Crawford close to seeing game action

Outfielder takes BP, set to head back to Florida

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 14, 2012
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Hours before Jacoby Ellsbury left the field with what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury, the Red Sox were heartened to see Carl Crawford taking batting practice with his teammates.

The left fielder, on the disabled list recovering from wrist surgery, was sent to Boston during the week to have a sore left elbow checked out. But that condition is not serious and Crawford will return to Florida this weekend.

According to manager Bobby Valentine, Crawford will start playing in extended spring training games as soon as possible.

Crawford will start out as a designated hitter, his throwing restricted by the sore elbow for now.

“I’m feeling good,’’ Crawford said. “Anxious to start playing.’’

Crawford isn’t too concerned about the elbow issue.

“This was the week I was scheduled to play games,’’ he said. “It’s just a little setback. It’s just a strain and we’re going to have to work on it a little bit. I’m guessing I’ll be playing some games next week, hopefully.

“It was frustrating because I was looking forward to playing those games. It got pushed back a week, so I’ll just have to wait a little longer and be patient.’’

Crawford said he began feeling pain in his left elbow “a couple of weeks ago’’ while working out in Florida.

Crawford was introduced to the crowd during the pregame ceremonies and received a nice hand.

“I’m excited about being here, back with team, being around the guys, being here for the 100th anniversary,’’ he said. “So we’ll see how that goes.’’

Crawford could return next month. If Ellsbury’s injury proves serious, Crawford’s importance will be magnified.

Bailey bouncing back

Andrew Bailey was in uniform for the home opener, his first time around the team since undergoing surgery for a torn ligament in his right thumb April 4. He had a soft cast covering his hand and much of his forearm.

“Everything is going well,’’ Bailey said. “Obviously it’s frustrating and disappointing. But it’s not the shoulder or the elbow. I’ll definitely be back.’’

Bailey expects to get his stitches taken out in a few days and will start rehabilitation work soon after that. His goal is to start throwing again eight weeks removed from the surgery, approximately the end of May.

“We’ll start general strengthening and go from there,’’ he said.

Bailey has been in Boston for about a week, exploring the city while waiting for the Sox to come home.

“That’s been great and all the fans have been very welcoming to me walking around town and wishing me luck,’’ he said. “It’s been very cool.’’

Mixed reaction

Despite the team’s many travails over the last six months, none of the players heard it too badly from the crowd during introductions.

There was a mixture of cheers and boos for Josh Beckett, who was warming up in the bullpen when Joe Castiglione announced his name.

Valentine heard a few boos as well. The loudest cheers came for Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.

High notes

There was a rousing national anthem by the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus before four F-16s from the Vermont Air National Guard executed a perfectly timed flyover.

The pregame highlight came from 92-year-old team legend Johnny Pesky, who announced, “Play ball!’’ with the players gathered around him.

Pedroia had a big hug for Pesky beforehand.

Clubhouse moves

Valentine did a makeover worthy of its own television show to the manager’s office. There’s a new modern desk, a red carpet, and photos of all the franchise’s previous managers on one wall, arranged in neat rows.

Valentine also has some framed covers of the vintage World Series programs he collects and a number of personal mementos.

There were a few changes within the clubhouse, too, including four new televisions hanging from the ceiling.

Crawford switched lockers, taking over Jason Varitek’s prime real estate on a corner near the trainer’s room. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grabbed the corner locker once the home of Tim Wakefield.

Ryan Sweeney has the locker by the door that belonged to J.D. Drew. Clay Buchholz also moved to a better spot down the row where all the pitchers dress. Beckett grabbed the corner locker once held by Jonathan Papelbon.

John Lackey, who was not on hand, took Beckett’s old locker.

Rehab updates

Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill went two scoreless innings for Single A Salem, allowing one hit. He struck out three. Hill has thrown four innings over three games in his rehabilitation assignment. For now, he will stay with Salem.

Valentine said lefthander Andrew Miller would pitch for Triple A Pawtucket Sunday and Monday, which would put him close to returning.

Sweeney’s streak

Sweeney has hit safely in all six games he has played in, going 1 for 3 after replacing Ellsbury . . . The Red Sox will hold an open house at Fenway Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fans can enter the park free and visit such areas as the clubhouse and inside the Green Monster and walk on the warning track. Former players will be on hand for autograph sessions every half-hour . . . Beckett has struck out at least one batter in all 281 games he has pitched, the second-longest streak to start a career. Dwight Gooden has the record of 349. Friday, Beckett struck out one, Carlos Pena in the eighth. It was the 11th time Beckett has had one strikeout . . . Catcher Max St. Pierre, who was in spring training with the Sox before being cut, received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension will be effective immediately upon his signing with another organization.

Michael Vega of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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