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.

World Series Games 1 and 2 may be the hottest of all time

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The World Series is often played in near winter-like conditions. The 2008 Series was interrupted by a snowy, wintry mix. The 2012 World Series games in Detroit dipped into the 20s. It’s not uncommon to see players wearing balaclavas and other winter gear during the so-called “Fall Classic.”

Not this year, though. Indeed, this year we’re likely to see record high temperatures for Games 1 and 2 at Dodger Stadium.

As of this moment, WeatherUnderground.com forecasts a high in Los Angeles of 101 degrees for today’s World Series Media Day and highs of 102 and 98 for Games 1 and 2, respectively. First pitch for both games is just after 5PM Pacific time, when the sun will still be blazing. The sun will set about an hour or so in to the game which should cool things off somewhat, but the heat will definitely impact pregame workouts and the early innings. Fans showing up three or more hours before first pitch will do well to prepare themselves for the elements.

The hottest World Series game on record came in Phoenix for Game 1 in 2001 when the mercury stood at 94 degrees at game time. That year Major League Baseball unwisely demanded that the Chase Field roof be left open for the Diamondbacks-Yankees tilt. If there is a Game 6 and/or 7 things will be nicer as the long range forecast shows temperatures in the low 70s by then.

Hydrate well, Dodgers and Astros. Those of us watching from cooler temperatures and/or the comfort of our air conditioned homes will feel really bad for you.