Carl Crawford expected to return around July 18

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According to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that left fielder Carl Crawford is expected to return to the major leagues around July 18 for the opening of a three-game series in Baltimore.

Crawford ran the bases on Tuesday and is probably going to be ready for full-time action immediately after the All-Star break, but the Red Sox will delay his activation until after they play a series July 15-17 on the artificial turf at Tampa Bay’s Tropicana Field.

Crawford has been on the disabled list since June 18 with a badly strained left hamstring. He was batting .243/.275/.384 with six home runs, eight stolen bases and 31 RBI in 67 games before suffering the injury.

The 29-year-old Crawford is in the first season of a seven-year, $142 million pact with Boston.