Carl Crawford expected to begin minor league rehab assignment Saturday

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At long last, Carl Crawford is ready to play in a baseball game again.

According to Maureen Mullen of CSNNE.com, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said today that Crawford is expected to serve as the designated hitter Saturday with the organization’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.

Crawford began this season on the disabled list following January surgery on his left wrist and then suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. If he uses the maximum 20 days on his rehab stint, which appears likely given the long layoff, that puts him on track to return when the Red Sox begin the second half of the season on July 13 against the Rays.

Crawford is in his second season of a seven-year, $142 million contract. The 30-year-old is looking to rebound after delivering a disappointing .255/.289/.405 batting line and a .694 OPS last year.

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.