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Crawford can start throwing program

He reaches final step in the rehab process

Adrian Gonzalez tries to distract Wilson Betemit as the Orioles runner takes a lead off first. Adrian Gonzalez tries to distract Wilson Betemit as the Orioles runner takes a lead off first. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / June 8, 2012
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What Carl Crawford wanted so badly to be a season of redemption has been a wasted one so far, the Red Sox left fielder having been parked on the disabled list. But there may be hope on the horizon.

Crawford has been cleared to begin a throwing program. It’s the latest - and most important - step in a rehabilitation process from wrist and elbow injuries.

Crawford started the season on the disabled list recovering from surgery on his left wrist. That issue, he said, has completely cleared up.

“My wrist is great,’’ he said. “I don’t even get treatment for that anymore. It’s pretty much 100 percent at this point.’’

His left elbow became a problem in April, and Crawford was diagnosed as having a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. He was given an injection of platelet-rich plasma April 26 to speed the healing process.

“My elbow feels a lot better,’’ Crawford said. “We’ll know for sure once I start throwing.’’

Crawford will start by playing catch from 60 feet and build up from there. He needs to get to a point where he can make a throw from left field to a cutoff man. That would be the last hurdle to his starting a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

“I don’t know how long that will take,’’ Crawford said. “I hope not too long. I hate not playing.’’

Crawford has been running and taking batting practice on a regular basis and appears to be in good shape. Whether his damaged ligament can stand up to throwing will determine if he plays this season.

“Hopefully all the rehab is going to pay off,’’ he said.

Crawford also said he has a “pretty good’’ relationship with manager Bobby Valentine after a rough start related to critical comments Valentine made about the outfielder on ESPN last year.

“At first I didn’t think we would probably get along that much,’’ Crawford said. “It’s better than I expected.

“He’s a hands-on manager, and that’s like managers I’ve had in the past. He likes to teach, and that’s what I’m used to. Teaching is always good. I’m a guy who always wants to learn more about the game. Information for me is always good.

“As of right now, the relationship is definitely better than I expected and I’m looking forward to playing for him.’’

Defending the bunt

Valentine vigorously defended his frequent use of the sacrifice bunt. Going into last night, the Sox had 15, tied with the Angels for most in the American League.

That is a departure from recent years, when the Sox considered it anathema to give up outs.

“I don’t particularly like the bunt, but I think it’s a very useful weapon at times,’’ Valentine said. “It keeps you out of double plays, for sure.

“I don’t like to give away outs. I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s great when you stay away from two outs.’’

Valentine pointed out that the Red Sox are second in the AL in runs.

“Maybe there’s a correlation between bunting and scoring a lot of runs,’’ he said.

Statistical analysts would tell you that is not the case. But the Sox are scoring a lot of runs with makeshift lineups, and sacrifices have aided that on occasion.

Valentine also mentioned that he would like to see his power hitters bunt for base hits against defensive shifts.

“Not for just that one at-bat, but for how it can spread the defense later and how they’ll pitch him later - in the season and in the game,’’ he said. “But, again, you have to be comfortable doing it. But it sure looks easy at times, though.’’

Cramping his style

Josh Beckett had a hamstring cramp in the eighth inning Wednesday that kept him from going out for the ninth. “It seems like it’s non-problematic,’’ said Valentine, pointing out that Beckett was on the treadmill at the time . . . Cody Ross was set to take batting practice on the field before passing showers canceled that. He said his fractured left foot feels normal. Ross hasn’t been cleared to run but he started jogging while chasing one of his kids and felt no discomfort . . . With six consecutive interleague road games next week, Valentine said he is “comfortable’’ playing Adrian Gonzalez at right field so that Ortiz can play first base. Thursday was the 11th game Gonzalez started in right.

Papi pitches in

Four Seasons Boston and David Ortiz are hosting the Run of Hope, a 5K run and 2K walk Saturday morning at the Hatch Shell. There will be a pancake breakfast, children’s characters, a fun run for kids, games, a raffle, and awards for the top runners. All proceeds benefit the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. The event starts at 10:10 a.m. after the runners register.

Too expensive?

A report by Fox Sports Arizona claimed the Diamondbacks were unlikely to trade for Kevin Youkilis because of financial reasons. Arizona stretched its budget to get to $75 million this season, and Youkilis has $7.7 million remaining on his deal for this season along with a $13 million team option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout . . . Ryan Kalish had a night off in his rehab assignment with Pawtucket. He was 4 for 5 with two home runs, four RBIs, and four walks in his first two games with the PawSox . . . Mike Riley, the PA man for the Lowell Spinners, had the job at Fenway Park Thursday.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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