Carl Crawford takes batting practice against teammates, calls it “a step in the right direction”

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From Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:

Carl Crawford faced relievers Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell on Tuesday, marking the first time he took live batting practice against major league pitchers since he was shut down two weeks ago.

“A step in the right direction,” said Crawford, who resumed working out last week.

Crawford began experiencing forearm tightness in late February that is thought to be related to the Tommy John reconstructive elbow procedure that he had last August. He told reporters after Tuesday’s live batting practice session that his timing with the bat “wasn’t as far off as I would expect it to be.”

Crawford is unlikely to be ready for the start of the regular season, but a mid-April Dodgers debut is possible if he avoids further setbacks. The 31-year-old outfielder was traded from Boston to Los Angeles last summer in the blockbuster deal that also saw Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto move west. Crawford inked a seven-year, $142 million free agent contract with the Red Sox in December 2010.

Brandon Morrow injured his back taking off his pants

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The Cubs’ bullpen got into trouble in the ninth inning on Tuesday afternoon during the first game of a doubleheader. Justin Wilson started the inning with the Cubs leading 3-2, normally a situation for closer Brandon Morrow. Wilson issued a leadoff walk to Austin Barnes, then gave up a single to Justin Turner. Morrow wasn’t warming up, curiously. Wilson ended up giving up a go-ahead two-run double to pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer and the Cubs went on to lose 4-3.

We now know why Morrow wasn’t available. He says his back tightened up taking off his pants early Monday morning, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports. Morrow said, “It’s frustrating any time you can’t get out there, especially when you can’t go for something as stupid as taking your pants off.”

Morrow, 33, has been terrific in the closer’s role this season for the Cubs. He owns a 1.59 ERA with a 25/9 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. He is also not available for the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader, but it sounds like he won’t need to go on the disabled list.