Injured Trio Ready To Go

Coco Crisp has more at-bats in unofficial minor league games than in Grapefruit League games. But he's still headed to Japan with the rest of the Red Sox later this week.

Crisp, who hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game since March 2 due to soreness in both groins, played in an intrasquad game at the Sox' complex in Ft. Myers, FL Tuesday. He went 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk. Crisp went 1-for-5 in a minor league game Monday.

Though Crisp is among the 30 players the Sox are taking to Japan Wednesday, Terry Francona told reporters Tuesday he's still unsure if Crisp will play—either in the exhibition games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants Saturday and Sunday, respectively, or in the regular season games against the Athletics March 25-26.

"We don't think he's ready to play and I don't think he does either," Francona said. "Saying that, he's done a great job to get to this point where we can take him with us. He can keep doing his baseball activities and there's actually a chance he might be active. That's to be determined, but he's done a good job to this point."

Crisp said he is still sore and he's yet to really run at game speed but that he's looking forward to the trip. "It's still sore to the touch…not excruciating, but like if you have a bruise," Crisp told reporters. "But I haven't got down and really tried to get after it, like 100 percent full speed. But I did try to steal that base [Monday] and put enough into it to know I'm fine."

Bobby Kielty and Julio Lugo, each of whom have also missed most of the Grapefruit League seasons due to injury, also played in the intrasquad game Tuesday. Kielty, who returned to action Sunday after missing a week with a tight right calf muscle, went 1-for-5 but was encouraged when he was able to motor to third from first on a single.

"I was running with no pain," Kielty told reporters. "It stressed me out for sure. I didn't know how quickly [his injury would heal] but it really took off in the last few days. I was really fired up to be able to run the way I did. I feel dramatically better. It definitely turned a corner, I think, to staying healthy."

Lugo, who missed 13 games with a sore back, went 1-for-4 and drew a walk. Francona said of the three players, Lugo—who played in three straight games Saturday through Monday—needed the at-bats Tuesday the least.

"He thought it was in his best interest to come here today and get some at-bats," Francona told reporters. "I didn't tell him he had to. He's come along fine. And if get over [to Japan, Alex] Cora can pick him up if we need to."

Francona said all three players will be in the lineup Wednesday, when the Sox host the Blue Jays at 12:05 p.m. in their Grapefruit League finale.


Diehard managing editor Jerry Beach can be reached at diehardmag@yahoo.com. To receive a free issue of Diehard, call 888-501-5752.

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