Celtics

Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

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Sox have outfield options despite Crawford surgery

With the news that Carl Crawford underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left wrist Tuesday and may not be ready for Opening Day, the Red Sox, who were already challenged by their outfield depth, face an even bigger challenge.

The Sox currently have outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Kalish, Che-Hsuan Lin, Darnell McDonald, Ryan Sweeney and Mike Aviles, in addition to Crawford,on their 40-man roster. Kalish missed most of last season because of injuries, underwent surgery on his neck and shoulder this offseason, and is not expected to be available until June. Lin was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last season and added to the 40-man in November. Aviles appeared in five games in the outfield for the Sox last season for the first time in his professional career, but has played in Puerto Rico this offseason to game some more experience there.

We expect Carl to be back and recovered from this hopefully early in the season, Sox general manager Ben Cherington said on a conference call Tuesday. So we dont think it changes much with regard to the outfield mix. Well certainly keep our eyes open if theres way to sort of protect ourselves. Well look for that between now and spring training. But right now we feel like we have some options even if Carls not ready quite on Opening Day.

Certainly Ellsbury will be in center. Sweeney will be a big part of our outfield mix. We still have Darnell on the roster, whos done a very good job. We sent Aviles to Puerto Rico to play some outfield. So hell, Im sure, see some time out there during spring training. And, again, if theres ways to build depth and add to that mix between now and spring training or during spring training, well certainly keep our eyes open for that. But dont think this changes much in terms of the outfield mix, the overall outfield mix for the 2012 season.

Whether Aviles will see more time in the outfield or infield this season remains to be seen. The same day the Sox lost infielder Jed Lowrie in a trade with the Astros in December for right-hander Mark Melancon, they signed infielder Nick Punto as a free agent.

I think time will tell, Cherington said. But we have Punto and Puntos done a really good job as a utility infielder and good defender at a bunch of different spots. We know Aviles can play the infield. Outfield is newer to him. He got exposed, as you guys know, a little bit last year. But then he played more this winter in Puerto Rico and I expect hell get some work out there in spring training and well just have to keep watching.
"But hes a guy that we want to try to get on the field because we think he can hit, we think he can help us. So perhaps thats an opportunity for him to do that. But thats something that manager Bobby Valentine and the staff will work out during spring training.

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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