Jacoby Ellsbury homered in his rehab game Monday, Carl Crawford is moving his rehab up to Double-A Portland with an eye towards returning right after the All-Star break and Scott Podsednik is rehabbing at Triple-A just awaiting his activation. Ryan Sweeney (toe) will probably be back before the end of the month, too.
In the meantime, the Red Sox have the following guys playing outfield right now:
Cody Ross – .287/.358/.575 in 181 AB
Daniel Nava – .294/.411/.462 in 143 AB
Ryan Kalish – .250/.286/.300 in 40 AB
Obviously, something is going to have to give. Kalish’s demotion is inevitable, but even so, that’d only free up one spot for four players. The Red Sox are going to have a difficult time squeezing either Podsednik or Sweeney back on the roster, at least once Ellsbury and Crawford are ready to go. Here’s what those two have done this year:
Scott Podsednik – .387/.409/.484 in 62 AB
Ryan Sweeney – .292/.330/.404 in 171 AB
Nava has options and can be sent down, but the Red Sox would be crazy to do that while he’s hitting like this. Not only has he been outstanding offensively — he’s scored 26 runs and driven in 26 runs in just 143 at-bats — but he’s also vastly improved defensively from a couple of years ago.
The truth is that the Red Sox really won’t have any business playing Crawford until either Ross or Nava hits a rough patch. It will be interesting to see if they do it anyway. It’s not that Crawford is incapable of bouncing back; it’s just that his replacements are performing so well.
As for Podsednik and Sweeney, they may turn into waiver bait. The Red Sox could keep one of those two in addition to Ellsbury, Crawford, Ross and Nava, but that would mean jettisoning the newly acquired Brent Lillibridge, someone who offers much more versatility with his ability to play the infield.
My guess: Podsednik replaces Kalish sometime this week, then gets designated for assignment when Ellsbury and Crawford return after the break (the Red Sox are at 13 pitchers right now, which should change next week). When Sweeney returns in late July, Lillibridge will likely be dumped, provided he’s still struggling offensively. If Lillibridge starts hitting, the Red Sox could try to slide Sweeney through waivers and send him to Triple-A.