With the Red Sox trailing the Texas Rangers by three runs in the fifth inning Wednesday, Carl Crawford lined a ball down the line in right field and sprinted around the bases, arriving at third base in what seemed like just a couple of seconds.
Crawford then scored on a double, helping keep the Sox in a game that they would eventually lose, 10-9.
“He’s back,” said teammate Cody Ross. “He’s the Carl that I played against for a lot of years.
“Confidence is the No. 1 key for him. When he’s swinging good, nobody can get him out and he creates havoc on the bases. It would have been nice to have him all year.”
Crawford did not play his first game of 2012 until July 16, his season wrecked by a long stay on the disabled list with left wrist and left elbow injuries. He did not have an extra-base hit in his first nine games but has been one of the team’s best hitters since.
Crawford is 16 of 49 (.327) in his last 12 games with five doubles, two triples, and three home runs. He has scored 11 runs and driven in 12.
His batting average through 21 games is .284. After a rough first season with the Red Sox, Crawford is finally showing what he is capable of.
“I’m just trying to go with it,” he said. “I’m playing well and I’m not putting too much thought in it. I’m having good at-bats.
“Hopefully I can continue to play well.”
Crawford is playing with a partially torn elbow ligament and is fearful of a further injury that would require surgery. But he has adapted his throwing style enough to get the ball back to the infield with enough zip on it.
The Red Sox believe the injury can heal sufficiently without surgery.
“I try not to think about it on the field,” Crawford said. “I’m just playing and doing what I have to do. I really can’t let it be on my mind.
“This is probably the best I’ve played in a while. I’m just trying to keep that going.”
Padilla goes on DL
The Red Sox placed righthanded reliever Vicente Padilla on the 15-day disabled list with what was termed “right arm tightness.” Manager Bobby Valentine said it was a biceps issue.
Righthander Clayton Mortensen was called up from Triple A Pawtucket.
“[Padilla] probably could pitch on Friday, but we just aren’t willing to take the chance going short for the next couple of days,” said Valentine. “It’s not fair to the guys who are out there and it could put us in a real bind.”
Padilla has made 41 appearances in relief and thrown 39 innings. A late-inning stalwart for much of the season, he has allowed six runs on seven hits (three of them home runs) in his last three innings.
Padilla is the 24th Boston player to go on the disabled list this season, the most in the majors since at least 1987. The Sox have used the disabled list 28 times this season. In the last 25 years, only the 2008 Nationals (30 times) and 2004 Rangers (29 times) have had more DL stints.
Red Sox players on the disabled list this season have missed a cumulative 1,144 games.
Mortensen relieved Josh Beckett in the fifth inning with the Red Sox down, 8-5. He allowed two runs over three innings and took the loss.
Valentine was asked before the game if he considered a “pre-emptive strike” at umpire Paul Nauert before Dustin Pedroia was ejected Tuesday night.
Pedroia struck out on a check swing that was called a strike by Nauert from first base. Pedroia argued the call on the field and continued his yelling from the dugout. He was eventually ejected after going out to play the field in the top of the ninth inning.
Pedroia was ejected before Valentine stepped on the field. Valentine then argued vociferously with Nauert but was not thrown out despite his best efforts.
Valentine was incredulous at the idea that he could have done something to prevent Pedroia being ejected.
“You living in a fantasy world? Were you watching the game?” Valentine asked. “That’s not even worth answering.”
Valentine said that he, too, yelled at Nauert from the dugout and kept a close eye on Pedroia.
When word of the exchange reached the clubhouse, Pedroia called Valentine over to his locker and shook his hand. Pedroia later said he thought Valentine handled the situation well.
Ortiz is on track
The Red Sox did not have batting practice on the field before the game, but David Ortiz took some swings inside and said his strained right Achilles’ tendon is continuing to show improvement. He is planning to come off the disabled list this weekend . . . Andrew Bailey pitched an inning for Pawtucket against Syracuse, striking out one. He is scheduled to pitch for Pawtucket again Thursday. Bailey, out all season after thumb surgery, has thrown four innings in four minor league games and may be a week away from being activated . . . Adrian Gonzalez (3 for 5, three doubles) has hit safely in all eight games this month at 15 of 31 with six doubles and 10 RBIs. He is up to .310 on the season with an OPS of .818 . . . The Red Sox are 15-27 in games started by Beckett and Jon Lester this season, 40-30 in games started by others.