Carl Crawford close to playing in extended spring training games

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Carl Crawford is still expected to miss most, if not all, of April, as he works his way back from January wrist surgery, but he is progressing toward game action.

According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said today that Crawford should begin playing in extended spring training games “very soon.” The exact timeline isn’t clear, but that he isn’t expected to be present for the Red Sox home opener next Friday is a clear hint that he could begin playing in games next week.

“We’re trying to get a very comprehensive, yet not rushed program for him,” said Valentine. “I heard he’s progressing really nicely. … The way it seems right now, he’s feeling very good.”

Crawford will be eased into game action as a designated hitter before getting back in the outfield. Valentine previously estimated that the high-priced outfielder would need about 50 plate appearances before coming off the disabled list, but he clarified today that there’s no set number of at-bats.

Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross should continue to get most of the playing time in the corner outfield spots until Crawford is ready.

Video: Zack Greinke homers off of Clayton Kershaw

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Diamondbacks starter Zack Greinke continued to swing a good stick, belting his third homer of the season on Monday night against the Dodgers. With the game tied 3-3 in the second inning, Greinke lined a 1-1 Clayton Kershaw fastball over the fence in left field for a solo homer.

Greinke is the third pitcher to homer off of Kershaw, joining Madison Bumgarner and Tyson Ross. He’s No. 4 if you count Brandon Woodruff‘s home run in Game 1 of the NLCS last year. Greinke now has three homers on the season, setting a career-high. He’s batting .314/.351/.686 with six RBI, seven runs scored, and a stolen base along with the trio of dingers. Absurd numbers from a pitcher.