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RED SOX NOTEBOOK

Crawford OK with latest drop in the lineup

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / July 25, 2012
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Carl Crawford was dropped to the seventh spot in the Red Sox lineup after two games last season. He took the quick hook as a slight and his relationship with former manager Terry Francona grew icy.

Crawford lasted six games at the second spot this season before he was dropped to seventh for Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers. But if he had any ill feelings toward Bobby Valentine, Crawford kept them to himself.

“I understand now. Last year was more like trying to prove to the manager and all that kind of stuff. Just fighting against myself,” Crawford said before the Sox’ 2-1 win.

“This year I kind of understand that, OK, I might be at the bottom sometimes; I might be at the top. I’m cool with it. I’ve come to grips that might happen. This year I just know to stay within myself and still just play my game.

“I’m not surprised because of what I went through last year. Things don’t frustrate me as much as they did last year. I think I’m in a better place.”

The move was made, Valentine said, because the Sox were facing lefty Martin Perez. Crawford has hit righthanders far better in his career.

“Put him in a place he was comfortable in last year and he has all of about 15 at-bats against lefthanders this whole year,” Valentine said. “I talked to Carl about it, actually. It seemed to make sense to him, made sense to me. Rather than rush it, just let it come to us.”

Crawford was 0 for 3 before leaving the game for defensive reasons in the sixth. Valentine did not want to chance him “coming out of his shoes” making a throw in a close game because Crawford is playing with a partially torn elbow ligament.

Crawford is hitless in 14 at-bats and was 7 of 29 since coming off the disabled list.

Crawford is cautiously optimistic about how he has played after missing the first half of the season with wrist and elbow injuries.

“I’m OK with it so far. Had a little bump these last few games. Overall, it’s better than I did last year at the beginning, so I’ll take it right now,” he said.

“The body is feeling well right now. It’s all about getting better and getting more at-bats. I think as time goes on, I’ll get better. It’s one of those things where you’ve just got to keep playing.’’

Crawford said the biggest thing for him is seeing pitches and getting his timing down.

“We’ve got Texas and New York, so I’m seeing some elite pitching right now so that’s good,” Crawford said. “I get to test where I’m at against guys like that. See what happens. It definitely feels like it’s early in the season for me and I’m trying to get adjusted to everything.”

Crawford had only 44 plate appearances over 11 games in a minor league rehabilitation assignment before being activated. He would have liked a few more given that he did not play in any spring training games.

“You know the situation and you have to deal with it,” he said.

Lillibridge to Indians

Utility player Brent Lillibridge, who was designated for assignment July 16, was traded to the Indians for righthander Jose De La Torre.

De La Torre, 26, was assigned to Triple A Pawtucket. He was 8-1 with a 2.91 earned run average in 34 appearances (one start) in Triple A and Double A. Only 5 feet 9 inches, De La Torre has a mid-90s fastball. He was in the Mets organization from 2006-11 before signing with the Indians over the winter.

Lillibridge was one of the players obtained from the White Sox for Kevin Youkilis June 24. He played in 10 games for the Red Sox, going 2 for 16. He is hitting .165 on the season.

The other player picked up in the Youkilis deal, Zach Stewart, is 1-1 with a 5.81 ERA in five starts for Pawtucket.

See you soon

The Red Sox play the Yankees in New York on Friday. That series never needs any extra commotion, but there will be plenty with Ichiro Suzuki making his home debut with the Yankees. The Yankees obtained Ichiro from the Mariners Monday for two pitching prospects.

Valentine first saw Ichiro in 1995, his first time managing in Japan, and came away greatly impressed. As the Mets manager in 2000, he advised the team to pursue Ichiro but wasn’t heeded.

“At the time I told our front office I thought he was one of the top 10 players in the world and it turned out to be wrong. He was top five,” Valentine said.

Valentine said Ichiro is a good pick up for the Yankees.

“He’s one of the great players that have ever played the game and they like to have great players. It seems like it fits in quite nicely there. I think he’s quality. He’ll play good defense; he’ll get big hits. Stole a base [Monday] night. We’ll pitch him tough.”

Slugging Salty

Jarrod Saltalamacchia did not start Tuesday night against the lefty but pinch hit in the ninth and drew a walk. The home run he hit Monday gave him 19 on the season, three more than any other catcher this season. The Red Sox record for home runs by a catcher is 26 by Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk in 1973 and ’77 . . . The Sox will start Aaron Cook, Jon Lester, and Felix Doubront against the Yankees this weekend . . . Clay Buchholz had three putouts in the second inning, the first pitcher in the majors to do that this season. All were on feeds from first baseman Adrian Gonzalez . . . The Sox signed 38-year-old righthander Nelson Figueroa to a minor league contract and assigned him to Pawtucket. He is scheduled to start Wednesday. A product of Brandeis, Figueroa was 7-2 with a 3.96 ERA in 17 appearances for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre (Yankees) before being released earlier this month . . . Righthander Craig Hansen, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2005, signed a minor league deal with the Mets. The 28-year-old last pitched in 2010. Hansen appeared in 74 games for the Sox before going to Pittsburgh in 2008 as part of the Manny Ramirez three-team deal . . . The 1912 Red Sox World Series trophy presented to team manager Jake Stahl is going on the auction block. It will be auctioned Aug. 2 at Camden Yards. The current owner is Robert Fraser, a Sox fan. The Westwood, N.J., real estate broker said he and his wife paid $74,000 for it in 2007. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions says it expects the trophy will fetch more than $300,000.

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

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