The Coco Crisp trade watch, such as it is, probably can be called off for the time being.
Bobby Kielty, the veteran center fielder in waiting in Pawtucket, underwent surgery on his left hand and is expected to be out from four to six weeks. Kielty, who was placed on the Pawtucket DL on the 19th with what was described as soreness in the hand, told club officials he is uncertain of how he hurt the hand. He did not respond to a message yesterday afternoon.
"He had a bone spur or something on top of his hand that was causing the ligament to snap back and forth,'' general manager Theo Epstein said, confirming the timetable for Kielty's return.
With Kielty out of the mix, the Sox have even less incentive to try and move Crisp, who yesterday returned to the lineup for the first time since April 15 (tight right hamstring) and had a big day, hitting two doubles, stealing third twice, driving in three runs and scoring another.
Until Crisp was hurt, he had started five of the previous six games in center field. His injury allowed rookie Jacoby Ellsbury to start eight in a row in center until yesterday, when he started in right field in place of J.D. Drew. Ellsbury made the most of his opportunity while Crisp was out. He went hitless in eight at-bats in two games in New York, but still jump-started two rallies by getting hit by a pitch and then stealing second. In his next six games, Ellsbury batted .417 (10 for 24), with a double, triple, two home runs, four RBIs, five walks and four more stolen bases. He had an on-base percentage of .417 and a slugging percentage of .517, before going 1 for 5 yesterday.
Drew was 2 for 20 on the homestand, but Francona said prior to yesterday's game that he had told Drew four days earlier that he'd have yesterday's game off against Angels left-hander Joe Saunders, whom Drew had never faced. Ordinarily, the switch-hitting Crisp likely would have led off against Saunders, but Francona noted the extended layoff factored into his decision to leave Ellsbury in the top spot.
The Sox are scheduled to face three right-handers in Tropicana Field against the Rays--Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson and James Shields--so it will be interesting to see how Francona divvies up the playing time among his center-fielders. While Ellsbury has been hot--Tuesday, he became the first Sox rookie to go deep twice in a game since Kevin Youkilis on Aug. 8, 2004--Crisp has been no slouch, batting (11 for 27, .407) in his last seven games with an at-bat.
And while much has been made of the fact that Ellsbury has yet to be caught stealing in the big leagues--he has yet to be caught in 17 attempts, the most successful attempts without being caught by a Sox rookie since 1920--Crisp has been caught only once in his last 18 attempts, going back to last July 6, and overall, his success rate of 84.4 percent (54 for 64) is the highest in club history for any player with 50 or more attempts.
Crisp said he had no idea how the playing time will shake out.
"He (Ellsbury) is playing well, I'm playing well, J.D. and Manny (Ramirez) are playing well--I wish it was softball,'' Crisp said. "We'll see what happens. It was a little different story about five days ago. Hopefully we'll continue to play well and make it a tough decision.''
Asked how Kielty's injury affects his situation, Crisp said: "It doesn't do anything to my situation. We have two different names. There are other minor league guys. JT (Joe Thurston) will be back. He's a good player.''