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Red Sox Notebook

Birthday bashing by Crawford

Left fielder chips in with three hits

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / August 6, 2012
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Carl Crawford had three hits, stole a base, knocked in a run, and played a good left field in the Red Sox’ 6-4 win over the Twins Sunday at Fenway Park.

After the game, he was asked if he was “the Tampa Bay Carl Crawford.”

“At times,” Crawford said. “Today was a time. So just different times. It’s a process.”

It was Crawford’s 31st birthday, and he seemed to have a little extra in his legs.

“You like to do well on your birthday,” he said. “You always hope for the best on your birthday.”

At times since his return from assorted injuries, Crawford has looked bad against lefthanded pitching. Some coaches think he’s not covering enough of the plate with his stance.

“Just to hit the ball against them is exciting for me because I’ve been struggling against them,” Crawford said. “So I’ve been making a few adjustments and doing a little bit better. I think I saw some tough lefties on the road and coming back and having seen pitchers like that you’re gonna struggle. You just have to rebuild and make adjustments and keep moving forward.”

Crawford, who is hitting .333 with six extra-base hits and nine RBIs in his last nine games after no extra-base hits and one RBI in his first nine games, seems to be aware of what’s at stake for the Sox. “We just can’t afford to lose any more games,” he said.

Crawford has cleared waivers, so any team can make a deal for him. But it appears the Sox are pretty content having him around now.

Crawford made his eighth consecutive start, a sign that the maintenance program on his left elbow has been scrapped and he can go until he needs a day off.

“It was part of a rehab process where they wanted to make sure that he was ready to go,’’ said manager Bobby Valentine. “They wanted to make sure he passed those tests. We were playing it day-by-day. Being that it’s his birthday I think the least he should do is play today, but he’s playing great. He’s swinging well and doing everything we need him to do in the outfield and on the bases.

“If he needs a day, he’ll get a day just like everyone else, but right now there’s nothing restricting him.’’

Henry on handOwner John Henry conferred with Valentine after Friday night’s tough loss, for the first time in quite a while, and by all accounts the meeting went well and was upbeat.

Henry has indicated he likely will not issue a vote of confidence to Valentine, general manager Ben Cherington, or the players, but he does expect the team’s play to improve.

A team source disputed an item in this space in Saturday’s editions in which it was stated that the Sox did not allow Valentine to pick all of his own coaches. The source said the manager approved the hiring of all his coaches. Valentine was asked to consider holdovers Tim Bogar, Dave Magadan, and Gary Tuck and was asked to consider Bob McClure, who had been hired as a roving instructor/scout by the organization.

Communication and trust issues with those holdover coaches have been prevalent this season. But the team has acknowledged that the communication between Valentine and some of those coaches has improved recently.

The front office and ownership appear to have come to the realization that the performance of the players is the biggest issue, according to a team source.

Valencia acquiredThe Sox made an in-game deal with the Twins, trading rookie-level outfielder Jeremias Pineda for third baseman Danny Valencia, who was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket. The Sox were looking to add to their depth at third.

Valencia, 27, has hit .260 with 52 doubles, 4 triples, 24 home runs, 129 RBIs, 106 runs, and 63 walks in 273 career games with the Twins over the last three seasons. But he was hitting only .198 in a head-scratching 2012 season in which he was replaced as the starter by Trevor Plouffe.

Valencia led the Twins in RBIs in 2011 with 72, but he lost his way at the plate this season. Twins assistant general manager Rob Anthony said he thought a change of scenery would do Valencia good. He also marveled at Pineda, whom the Twins saw quite often in spring training in Fort Myers.

Pineda, 21, hit .421 with 9 doubles, 3 triples, 22 RBIs, 20 runs, 5 walks, and 14 stolen bases in 36 games this season for Fort Myers in the Gulf Coast League.

Ellsbury returnsJacoby Ellsbury was back in the lineup after sitting out with a leg issue, and hit a key double to left-center in the third inning. He spent the better part of his day off working on his bunting. “We were trying to keep a situation from getting to where we don’t want it to be,’’ Valentine said of Ellsbury’s leg issue, which the manager said was not hamstring-related. “It was just a preventative thing.’’ On Ellsbury’s bunting, Valentine said, “Well, again, because he hasn’t played so much and hasn’t had those reps, he’s not as comfortable doing the sacrifice, or a bunt for a hit. But if they regularly play him in close at third, you have to make a really good bunt if you’re going to bunt to third.’’ . . . Josh Beckett will not throw a bullpen session Monday, as originally scheduled. He is good to start Wednesday vs. Texas . . . Rich Hill, on the 60-day disabled list since June 10 because of a left elbow strain, threw a bullpen session Sunday “and looked good, felt good,’’ Valentine said. The next step for Hill will be a rehab assignment. “It shouldn’t be that far,’’ Valentine said. “There’s no definite schedule yet.” . . . A rehabbing Daisuke Matsuzaka (right upper trapezius strain) went three-plus innings and allowed four runs, five hits, and one walk for Pawtucket Sunday . . . Andrew Bailey (thumb) allowed one run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts in one inning in a rehab stint at Portland.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com or on Twitter @nick cafardo. Michael Vega of the Globe staff also contributed to this report

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