Via Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal:
Carl Crawford will fly back to Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday and “more than likely” will play in his first extended-spring-training game on Tuesday, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
Crawford has been on the 15-day disabled list since the start of the regular season due to lingering inflammation in his surgically-repaired left wrist.
He experienced a setback recently in the form of left elbow soreness, but it was only a minor issue and he was able to take batting practice Saturday in an indoor cage while the Red Sox hosted the Rays outside.
“He’s taken a lot of batting practice,” Valentine said Sunday morning. “He might have even been part of the inspiration for our play yesterday. He was taking it during the game in the cage. The sound was so loud that I think it inspired some of our guys to hit the ball hard. He was really making a loud noise in that batting cage.”
Crawford, who posted a disappointing .255/.289/.405 slash line in 2011, is expected to be ready in early May.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.