Carl Crawford kicks off brief rehab stint at Pawtucket

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Carl Crawford played his first of two minor league rehab games with Triple-A Pawtucket last night. He played five innings in left field and went 1-for-2 a broken bat RBI single, a walk and a run scored.

Most importantly, he told Mike Scandura of the Boston Globe after the game that his hamstring felt fine.

“The most important thing was being able to break out of the box like I normally can . . . to be able to move quick without worrying about my hamstring,’’ Crawford said after playing five innings in a rehab game for Pawtucket against the Durham Bulls. “I had a few moments tonight where I was able to test it.’’

Crawford has been sidelined since suffering a Grade 1 strain of his his left hamstring while beating out an infield single on June 17. Barring any setbacks this weekend, he is slated to fly to Baltimore on Sunday and rejoin the Red Sox for Monday’s game against the Orioles.

Crawford has a disappointing .243/.275/.384 batting line to go along with six home runs, eight stolen bases and a .659 OPS in 277 plate appearances this season, but was batting .316 with four home runs and 17 RBI over his last 21 games prior to the injury.

Mark Melancon is considering surgery

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Giants’ right-hander Mark Melancon is considering surgery for an undisclosed injury, the pitcher told reporters prior to Friday’s game against the Phillies. Melancon did not divulge the exact location of the injury, but revealed that it had been plaguing him off and on since the 2012 season and was a separate issue from the right pronator strain that kept him sidelined through much of July and August. Giants’ head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner called the injury day-to-day and has not revealed a timetable for the right-hander’s return, should surgery become necessary.

Melancon, 32, has struggled to replicate the sparkling pitching line he produced with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016. He’s toting a 3.80 ERA through 25 appearances with San Francisco, flanked by a 1.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 23 2/3 innings. His season has been significantly shortened after multiple trips to the disabled list for a right forearm strain, and while he looked to be in line to resume his closing duties this week, the Giants will likely play it safe with the veteran righty to keep him from compromising his health in 2018.

Although the injury doesn’t appear to be severe in nature, it’s clearly intensified over the last few months. Per MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Melancon said he’s “had discomfort every day this season,” though he hopes to continue pitching through the remainder of 2017. The Giants aren’t on the verge of contending by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid end to the 2017 season could help Melancon make some headway as he looks to reclaim his status as the team’s closer next spring.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.