Carl Crawford expected to be ready for Opening Day

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Carl Crawford was limited to just 31 games in the majors this season prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in August. Pitchers usually need around a year to get back into game action, but position players can return sooner. That’s what the Dodgers are hoping for, anyway.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times this evening that he expects Crawford to be ready for Opening Day if he can avoid setbacks. If he can do it, he would be just over eight months removed from the surgery.

There was some chatter over the weekend that the Dodgers were pursuing Torii Hunter with Crawford and Matt Kemp coming off surgeries, but that would make him a pretty expensive insurance policy, especially with Andre Ethier still on the roster. Hunter is drawing plenty of interest right now and is likely to sign with a club where he has a defined full-time role.

Crawford was acquired from the Red Sox at the end of August along with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto. The 31-year-old outfielder still has five years and $102.5 million remaining on his contract.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.

Phillies release veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday

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The Phillies announced on Monday that the club released veteran catchers Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Both were competing for the back-up catcher spot on the team’s 25-man roster. With both out of the picture, that means Andrew Knapp has won that honor.

Knapp, 25, hit a combined .266/.330/.390 with eight home runs and 46 RBI in 443 plate appearances last year at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He did not have a great spring but has hit well as of late, which likely pushed him ahead of Hanigan and Holaday. Knapp will serve as the understudy to starting catcher Cameron Rupp.