Carl Crawford celebrated his 31st birthday Sunday. It was a working birthday holiday for the Red Sox left fielder, who was penciled into the lineup in the No. 2 hitting position for Sunday's finale of this four-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
It was also his eighth consecutive game in the lineup since his last programmed day off.
"It was part of a rehab process where they wanted to make sure that he was ready to go,'' said Red Sox 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,'' Valentine said. "If he needs a day, he'll get a day just like everyone else, but right now there's nothing restricting him.''
In other related items:
* Jacoby Ellsbury, who was a late scratch before Saturday's 6-4 loss to the Twins because of a "leg issue,'' was back in the lineup for Sunday's game. Ellsbury came off the bench late in Sunday's game as a defensive replacement Ryan Kalish, who drew the start when Ellsbury was scratched.
"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.
"He doesn't like to have things mentioned,'' Valentine said. "It was just a preventative thing.''
Ellsbury spent time during batting practice before Saturday's game working on his bunting, asked if it was something he had wanted the center fielder to work on, 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, but he's fast.''
* Valentine said RHP Josh Beckett was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday. Beckett suffered back spasms in the third inning of his last outing last Tuesday and missed his turn in the rotation Sunday and is expected to be slotted back into the rotation Wednesday. "He's on track,'' Valentine said.
Franklin Morales, who is 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA, will take Beckett's turn in the rotation. Since June 3, a stretch which included five starts, Morales has led the Majors with a .189 opponent average (28-for-148).
* LHP Rich Hill, who had been on the 60-day disabled list since June 10 recovering from a left elbow strain, threw a bullpen session Sunday and "looked good, felt good,'' Valentine said. The next step for Hill would be to pitch in a rehab assignment. "It shouldn't be that far,'' Valentine said. "There's no definite schedule yet, I don't think.''
* RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka was scheduled to make his second rehab start Sunday for Triple A Pawtucket. "He'll let it all hang out and see if he can win a baseball game,'' said Valentine, who indicated Matusuzaka would be kept to a 90-pitch count. Matsuzaka began his rehab stint last Monday night vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) in Rochester, N.Y., allowing 4 hits and 1 walk with 3 strikeouts over 2.1 scoreless innings. He threw 47 pitches, 30 for strikes.