MANCHESTER, N.H. -- If there was ever an indication of Carl Crawford's progress, this might have been it.
Sidelined with a partially torn ligament in his left elbow, Crawford smacked a triple to right-center in his third at-bat Thursday for Double A Portland, and never broke stride as he slid in safely without a throw. He finished 1 for 4.
"I hope to be able to drive the ball well," Crawford said. "Just trying not to do too much. I got a good piece of wood on it. It found a gap."
Crawford is 4 for 10 with an RBI, two walks and one stolen base in three rehab games with the Sea Dogs. After walking five times in his previous seven rehab starts between Portland and the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, Crawford came out swinging against New Hampshire. He grounded out to second to lead off the game, struck out swinging on a full-count, 90-m.p.h. outside fastball in the third and was lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh after reaching on a fielder's choice.
"I've been getting just about everything -- running the bases, seeing balls off the bat," Crawford said. "I saw a tough lefty my last at-bat, so I'm getting the things I need to get ready."
This all comes after Crawford underwent offseason wrist surgery in January, suffered a major setback with the elbow injury and nearly had another Tuesday when he blasted a foul ball off his right knee. He said he e-mailed Red Sox officials and that he expected a response Friday on his timetable.
ďOf course Iíd like to be up in the big leagues playing right now, but I donít know if thatís possible," Crawford said when asked about Boston's weekend series with the Yankees. "Definitely, in the back of my mind, I wish I was up there playing.Ē
The reception from the New Hampshire crowd, who turned out in droves for the postgame fireworks but got an added bonus with Crawford and Ryan Sweeney in the opposing dugout, was generally positive, with cheers every time he came to bat. But when asked about one particular fan who, before Crawford's triple, was heard jeering about his 7-year, $142 million contract, Crawford instead brought up an ugly incident.
ď[One fan] actually called me a racial slur to begin the game with,Ē he said. ďHe was the only one I had a problem with. People in Boston donít even do that. I donít know what that was about. Itís not that bad in Boston like that.
"But I can understand why people can be upset about me signing a contract and me having the kind of year I had. I understand. They love their team. They want you to produce when you sign a contract like that. I canít be mad at them. All I can do is get ready to play this year and try to produce.Ē
Sweeney, in his first rehab start since going to the disabled list June 17 with a left big toe fracture, was 1 for 4.
"Can't really look at the results, the hits every time," Sweeney said. "First at-bat felt good, and I felt like I took some good swings on the ball."
Sweeney's lone hit was a single up the middle in the first. After that, he grounded out to second in the third inning, grounded out to short in the fifth and popped out to third in the eighth.
"Hopefully [I'll] be activated here pretty soon," Sweeney said. "I think it's up to the front office, because there's so many guys on the DL, coming off the DL, so there's going to be some decisions that will probably need to be made in the next couple of days. All I can do is go where they tell me to go.
"Carl and Jacoby [Ellsbury] have been out for a while, I've just been out two weeks. I just need to see some pitches and get my timing down and stuff like that. When you're out for a couple weeks, it's a timing thing. Obviously you want to see if your injury's OK and that feels good. Now it's just trying to put together good at-bats and have some timing at the plate."