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.

The Red Sox are calling up Rafael Devers

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Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox are calling up third base prospect Rafael Devers. He’ll be in Seattle for the start of the three-game set between the Sox and Mariners.

Devers, 20, is the top prospect in the Boston system according to MLB Pipeline. He has spent most of his season with Double-A Portland, where he hit .300/.369/.575 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI in 320 plate appearances. He was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after the All-Star break. In eight games with Pawtucket, Devers hit .355/.412/.581 with two home runs and four RBI.

There is still just over a week until the non-waiver trade deadline, but perhaps the Red Sox seem confident Devers can be the answer to the third base problem.

Stephen Strasburg exited Sunday’s start with an apparent injury

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It’s not a good day if you’re a star starting pitcher. First Clayton Kershaw, now Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals’ right-hander lasted only two innings in Sunday’s start against the Diamondbacks, leaving with an apparent injury. Strasburg held the D-Backs to a hit and three walks with two strikeouts without allowing a run. Matt Grace relieved him in the third inning.

Including Strasburg’s two innings on Sunday, he’s carrying a 3.25 ERA with a 141/37 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings.

The Nationals should pass along word on Strasburg’s condition shortly.