Carl Crawford hitless in first minor league rehab game

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Good news for the Red Sox, as WEEI’s Alex Speier brings word that Carl Crawford began a minor league rehab assignment today with the organization’s Gulf Coast League affiliate.

Crawford, who had offseason wrist surgery and was later diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, went 0-for-3 with two walks while serving as the designated hitter. He was retired on a couple ground outs and a fly out to center field.

Crawford figures to DH for a few more games before testing his elbow by playing the field. Assuming the high-priced outfielder spends the maximum 20 days on his rehab assignment, that will set him up to return when the Red Sox begin the second half of the season on July 13 against the Rays in St. Petersburg.

Of course, Crawford isn’t the only member of Boston’s outfield on the comeback trail. Jacoby Ellsbury has been taking batting practice and running the bases this week as he recovers from a right shoulder subluxation and could soon be ready for a rehab assignment of his own.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves