Carl Crawford expected to return around July 18

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According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that left fielder Carl Crawford is expected to return to the major leagues around July 18 for the opening of a three-game series in Baltimore.

Crawford ran the bases on Tuesday and is probably going to be ready for full-time action immediately after the All-Star break, but the Red Sox will delay his activation until after they play a series July 15-17 on the artificial turf at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

Crawford has been on the disabled list since June 18 with a badly strained left hamstring. He was batting .243/.275/.384 with six home runs, eight stolen bases and 31 RBI in 67 games before suffering the injury.

The 29-year-old Crawford is in the first season of a seven-year, $142 million pact with Boston.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.