Carl Crawford cleared to return to Red Sox on Monday

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Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford played in rehab games Friday and Saturday at Triple-A Pawtucket without feeling any discomfort in his left hamstring, according to Mike Scandura of the Boston Globe, and has been cleared to return to the major leagues.

Crawford will be activated from the disabled list before Monday’s series-opener against the Orioles and should start two of three games in Baltimore.

The 29-year-old managed just one single and a walk in six plate appearances with the PawSox, and he saw very few chances in the outfield. But the Red Sox are confident that his timing will be fine and that he is ready to contribute again at the big league level.

Crawford was batting .243/.275/.384 with six homers, eight steals and 31 RBI before landing on the disabled list in mid-June with a hamstring strain. He signed a seven-year, $142 million contract in December.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.