Red Sox notebook

Sore elbow sends Crawford to the doctor

By Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / April 11, 2012
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TORONTO - Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford was in Boston Tuesday to be checked out by team doctors because of a sore left elbow.

The issue is believed to be minor, according to team sources. The remedy could be as simple as cutting back on throwing for a few days.

Crawford is on the disabled list as he recovers from surgery on his left wrist. Before the elbow issue cropped up, he was close to playing in extended spring training games in Fort Myers, Fla.

Crawford had the surgery in January, then suffered a setback during spring training when he started taking batting practice. The Red Sox shut him down for about 10 days and Crawford never played in a game.

Manager Bobby Valentine has estimated that Crawford would need approximately 50 at-bats before being activated. The earliest that could happen would be sometime in May.

Sweeney keeps busy

Ryan Sweeney was a part-time player for the Athletics last season, getting only 299 plate appearances. But he has been a full-time contributor to the Red Sox so far.

The right fielder has started all five games, going 8 for 18 with two RBIs.

“He’s really played well for us,’’ Valentine said. “Last four games of spring training, he started to feel his swing come around and he took it right into the season.’’

Sweeney drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of Monday’s 4-2 victory against Toronto with a single to right field. Usually a patient hitter, Sweeney swung at a first-pitch fastball from Sergio Santos.

Sweeney credited that decision to talking shop with teammates Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz.

“Just having a game plan going up there is the main thing,’’ he said. “Not necessarily changing anything mechanically. The thing I noticed with those guys is when they get their pitch where they’re looking for it, they don’t miss it.’’

Sweeney is a career .284 hitter with a .344 on-base percentage. But the Red Sox are his third team in six seasons and he never has hit for much power.

“I think he has upside,’’ Valentine said. “If we keep him healthy - because he has had some nagging situations, especially with his lower body, that have kept him from really putting a good string together - he can be a good run producer for us.’’

Hot topic

The comments of Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen regarding Fidel Castro and Guillen’s subsequent five-game suspension have created enormous controversy in South Florida.

When asked if he had any comment on the matter, Valentine gave a smart answer.

“No,’’ was all he said.

Guillen was the third base coach of the Marlins in 2003 when they won the World Series with Josh Beckett. Before Beckett started Game 6 against the Yankees in New York, Guillen promised he would buy him two new suits if he won the game. Beckett threw a five-hit shutout to clinch the Series. But he never got those suits.

“He left for Chicago after that,’’ Beckett said. “I should ask him for those suits.’’

Now probably would not be the best time.

Punto spells Aviles

Mike Aviles sprained his left ankle slightly Monday night. So Valentine gave Nick Punto the start at shortstop.

“He says he’s fine, and he always says he’s fine, and I guarantee he’s going to say he’s fine every day this year,’’ Valentine said. “I thought Nick played such a good game the other day [in Detroit], it was just a good opportunity to get him in there.’’

When asked about his ankle, Aviles said he was fine, just as Valentine predicted he would.

“Totally fine,’’ he said.

Aviles was on the field for early batting practice and did not appear hampered.

Punto went 1 for 4 and scored a run.

Hill on the mound

Rich Hill, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery, threw an inning for Single A Greenville. Facing Hickory, he allowed one run on two hits and struck out two . . . Andrew Miller, on the disabled list with a hamstring strain, will continue his rehab assignment with Triple A Pawtucket . . . According to Valentine, Daisuke Matsuzaka threw 49 pitches over three innings in a recent extended spring training game. His fastball was clocked at 94 m.p.h. . . . Daniel Bard made his first major league start after making 192 appearances out of the bullpen. Those are the most games in relief to begin a career with Boston prior to making a start . . . The Sox have dropped five of their last eight games against the Blue Jays and seven of the last 12 at the Rogers Centre . . . The Jays drew 48,473 for the opener Monday and 26,351 Tuesday.

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

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