Josh Reddick Making Carl Crawford’s Absence a Virtual Non-Issue for Red Sox

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Josh Reddick Making Carl Crawford's Absence a Virtual Non-Issue for Red Sox BOSTON — When Carl Crawford strained his left hamstring June 17 legging out an infield hit, he was hopeful to avoid the disabled list.

That didn't happen.

Once he was disabled, Crawford hoped to return when eligible and be able to play in his hometown of Houston.

That didn't happen.

Crawford and the Red Sox then set their sights on the seven-game homestand prior to the All-Star break as a good time for their starting left fielder to return.

That might not happen.

"I don't know," manager Terry Francona said when asked directly if Crawford would come back before the All-Star break. "I just told him I would check with him every day and see how he's doing."

The uncertainty could be a damaging scenario for the club. It could be, if not for the presence of Josh Reddick, who has taken advantage of his opportunity for increased playing time with a torrid pace at the plate.

"The one nice thing is [Reddick] has stepped in and basically hit about .440," Francona said of his .422-hitting outfielder. "It's certainly not going to stay that way, but every so often, how much you miss a guy depends on who's filling in, and Red's done an unbelievable job."

In addition to the hefty batting average, Reddick has slugged at a .667 pace with four doubles, two triples and a home run. He has 10 RBIs in 17 games, only 11 of which he started. And, after drawing three walks against 32 strikeouts in his first two years with Boston, Reddick has drawn six free passes while whiffing just seven times in 2011.

In addition to Francona's words, the manager's actions have given every indication that his confidence in Reddick has grown.

With a left-hander on the mound to begin the seventh inning Sunday in Houston, Francona called on Darnell McDonald to pinch hit for J.D. Drew. However, he let Reddick, who was up next, stay in there against the southpaw. After McDonald flew to right, Reddick drew a walk, bumping his OPS against lefties to 1.578.

It was rather telling that the veteran Drew would be sat in that situation while the 24-year-old Reddick would be left in the game. Then again, the numbers support such a move.

Reddick is 7-for-9 against southpaws. Drew is 7-for-36 (.194). McDonald, who has been in a virtual platoon with Reddick in Crawford?s absence, is 5-for-38 (.132).

In addition, upon the team's return to Fenway Park, with righty Brandon Morrow on the mound for Toronto, Reddick is batting sixth, while Drew is eighth. In past years, when Reddick was riding the express from Pawtucket to Boston and just a bit player during his infrequent days with the big club, that never would have happened. He has played his way into a middle-of-the-order presence.

Crawford will return soon enough, perhaps later in this homestand or on the team's six-game road trip after the break. Because of Reddick's hot bat, it won?t matter much if he takes his time.

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