Sweaty from taking soft-toss swings in a batting cage at Fenway Park, Carl Crawford appeared in the Red Sox clubhouse before Tuesday night’s game and said he was about 10 days away from beginning a throwing program.
“When I can start throwing, that’ll be the true test,’’ said Crawford, who started the season on the disabled list after undergoing left wrist surgery and was transferred to the 60-day DL after he developed left elbow soreness.
“I can do all this [hitting] stuff, but the true test is whenever I get to start throwing and finally see how that feels. Then that’s when I’ll know where I’m at.’’
Manager Bobby Valentine said he wanted to begin “programming’’ Crawford to get his body ready to throw.
“Mechanically, we’re going to try to get his legs and his front side and all the things that go into the proper throwing motion, to get that mechanically in synch,’’ Valentine said. “I’d like his hitting program and his throwing program to be supervised.’’
Asked how the team intended to achieve that objective, Valentine said, “There’s a mechanic we’d like to see Carl use, which I would think to be proper. There’s a turn of the body, a step of the legs, a late rotation with the upper body rather than an early rotation with the upper body.
“And that’s a kind of movement from the bottom to the top, a kinetic link from the feet to the place that’s being propelled, so we would like him to start getting that linkage.’’
McDonald is close
Darnell McDonald, who was placed on the 15-day DL May 13 with a strained right oblique, was back in the clubhouse after completing his third rehab assignment at Pawtucket Monday. He played all nine innings in center field and went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch in a 6-4 loss to Norfolk.
“Today he said he could play, but he’s not 100 percent,’’ Valentine said. “I told him I’d like him to be 100 percent. He’s on the disabled list, so by the time he comes back, we’d like to have a player who is capable to go full-bore physically.’’
Valentine said McDonald would likely return to Pawtucket for another rehab start.
Sweeney in right
With Dustin Pedroia out of the lineup for the first time this season, Nick Punto drew his first start at second base. Punto hit out of the No. 9 hole. The job of hitting in Pedroia’s customary No. 2 spot fell to Ryan Sweeney, who was back in right field.
Sweeney, who returned to the lineup Monday for the first time since suffering a mild concussion making a diving catch in Philadelphia May 19, started in center field in that game and went 3 for 4 with a double and his first outfield assist of the season.
Tuesday night, he returned to right, where he made a spectacular sliding catch of Brennan Boesch’s shallow fly in the second inning. He also went 0 for 4.
Sweeney’s return to right meant that Adrian Gonzalez, who has played seven games in right this season - including the first of this homestand - returned to first.
Kevin Youkilis, who had played the last three games at first, returned to third base, giving rookie phenom Will Middlebrooks the night off.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia departed after the sixth inning because he was ill. Kelly Shoppach entered in the seventh to catch reliever Andrew Miller . . . Miller, a first-round selection by the Tigers (sixth overall) in the 2006 draft, faced the Tigers for the first time since they dealt him to the Marlins in 2007. He started the seventh and lasted two-thirds of an inning, allowing one run on two hits while recording one strikeout . . . Miller handed it off to Vicente Padilla, who stranded his 16th inherited runner of the season, the most in the majors without allowing a runner to score . . . Justin Verlander gave up 10 hits for the first time since Sept. 2, 2010, when he gave up 10 hits in a 10-9 victory over the Twins.
Milestone is near
Gonzalez entered the game needing one home run for 200 in his career. He went 1 for 4 with a leadoff single in the fifth. Gonzalez notched his 199th against the Rays Sunday . . . The Sox are 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Orioles and in last place in the American League East - the latest they have been in the cellar since September 1997 . . . Sharon Robinson, daughter of the late Jackie Robinson and founder of the Breaking Barriers program, was on hand for a pregame ceremony to honor Breaking Barriers essay contest winner Chava Sosis, a sixth-grade student from Providence Hebrew Day School . . . Jon Butcher, of Farren Butcher Inc., performed a Jimi Hendrix-esque instrumental version of the national anthem, using a Fender electric guitar that was decorated in a Fenway Park 100th anniversary theme . . . Andy Jick, the former Celtics public address announcer and current Boston College men’s basketball announcer, handled interim PA duties.Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.