Waiting for Carl Crawford


Waiting for Carl Crawford

It's only Tuesday and I'm already Bobby Valenitine'd out for the week.

Honestly, I don't know what it is, but if I hear one more person write or talk about his criticism of players, his alleged beef with Ben Cherington or the fact that he invented the wrap, there's a good chance I lose my mind and start drop kicking strangers like I'm Izzy Alcantara.

It's a long season, guys. Everyone take a breath! And let's talk about something else: Carl Crawford.

From the moment we found out that Crawford had offseason wrist surgery, the expectation was that he'd start the season late. How late? We didn't know, but didn't expect it would be very long. Maybe a few weeks?

And while that wasn't ideal, we figured that would was still leave him enough time turn around his Red Sox career, before he's swallowed into the abyss with John Lackey, Dice-K and that mannequin in a baseball uniform standing awkwardly in the corner. (Oh wait, that's JD Drew.)

Anyway, these days there's still reason to believe that Crawford can find salvation. The Sox still expect him to be ready before the end of April, and that's more than enough time to have a season. Look at David Ortiz. He's taken April off for the last four years, and has still put up great numbers.

But while it might be too early to really worry about CC's season, let me just say that his recovery process have been exhausting. Check out this chronology of how Crawford's spent his spring, and try not to break a sweat. (Info from Rotoworld)

220: Carl Crawford is cleared to swing a bat.

221: Crawford takes 15 swings off a tee.

227: Crawford takes soft-toss swings.

33: Crawford concedes he may have pushed himself too soon.

34: Crawford has his sore left wrist examined by Sox doctors.

35: Crawford is shut down for 5-7 days.

39: Crawford makes 35 throws from a distance of 60 feet.

319: Crawford takes 20 swings off a tee.

321: Crawford doesn't swing, but runs the bases.

327: Crawford will do bunting drills.


Listen, I know that wrist injuries are delicate, and when you consider that Crawford thought taking 15 swings and some soft toss qualified as "pushing himself too soon," you can understand why the Red Sox have slow played his more recent work load.

So while I won't criticize the nature of his rehab (although when you read it all together, it's pretty funny), it goes without saying that we're still waiting for Carl Crawford to turn the corner on this injury.

That even though there's still hope that he can put this speed bump behind and have a respectable season, very little has happened to increase our optimism.

But hey, at least it took our minds off Bobby Valentine for almost 500 words.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday


All signs point to LeBron James playing against Celtics Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- A sprained left ankle injury kept LeBron James out of all but one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason games, and has created a certain element of uncertainty as to whether he’ll play against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. 
While it has yet to be determined for sure if he’ll play, all indications are that the 15-year veteran will be in the starting lineup as the Cavs kick off their quest to remain the team to beat in the East.

“I never hide stuff from you guys. I really don’t know,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said when asked if James would play against the Celtics. “Depending on how he feels, but I really don’t know.”
However, James looked pretty comfortable shooting the ball after practice with a trio of former Celtics in Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green. 
And if you listen to the man who would likely start in James’ place -- J.R. Smith -- there’s nothing to worry about Cavs Nation. 
According to Smith, James will play. 
“We were talking about it, he’s never missed, since he was 8 years old and he started playing, he’s never missed a first game,” Smith said. “I’m preparing for him to play.”
Despite having played more than 41,000 minutes -- only 33 players in NBA history have done so -- James has been one of the game’s more durable players. Last season James he sat out only eight games, and that was the most he has missed in a single season.
 "He's gonna go [Tuesday]," Smith said. "He's gonna go, trust me [on] that. I don't care what he's gotta do, he's gonna play."

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

Celtics may spend a good part of the year playing 'Getting To Know You'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It’s hard to believe the Celtics are just hours away from their first regular-season game after having been together for less than a month. 
The quick turnaround isn't all that different than it is for the other 29 teams in the NBA.  But the Celtics, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, are returning only four players -- and just one starter -- from last year.
Training camp was indeed a crash course called Getting to Know My Teammates 101.
But listening to the players, and coach Brad Stevens, it’s clear there will be lessons learned all season long.


“We have a good feel about how things can look, in the preseason,” said Al Horford. “But it is the preseason. Now it all starts. And right away we face a tough test (in the Cavaliers). But yeah, we’ll start learning even more. We’ve already learned a good amount, but even more when Tuesday rolls around.” 
That's when the Celtics kick off the regular season at Cleveland, which will once again be the favorite to advance to the NBA Finals.
Not too far behind (right behind them, by most accounts) are the Celts, whose season ended in the Conference finals a year ago in a five-game loss to the Cavs.
And the Boston players collectively feel that, despite the short amount of time together, they’ve developed a good sense of chemistry and understanding of how to play effectively with one another. 
Having said that, they also understand that there’s still plenty of room to grow. 
“I don’t expect it to be perfect by any means at all,” said Gordon Hayward. “We’ll definitely have some ups and downs this season. Like I said, one thing is we’ll be able to compete every night. We’ll be able to play together. Those things should stay the same.”
In many respects, the Cavaliers are going through a similar challenge this season.  They've added Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder -- and, when he recovers from his hip injury, Isaiah Thomas -- to a core group that’s led by LeBron James. 
While the increase in talent is undeniable, it’ll take some time before they too develop the kind of on-the-court cohesiveness that comes with time. 
“It’s gonna take time,” Rose said. “It’s going to be a process for everybody to learn their roles, learn everybody’s tendencies, and not think while they’re out there.”
And while there’s a heightened level of uncertainty as to how things will play out with the Celtics this season, Stevens embraces the unknown. 
“I think we're going to be learning about ourselves through the middle of the season,” Stevens said. “I think you do that with every team, but I think that's especially the case now. But this is, I've said this before, like, the first week, the first 10 days, the first few weeks, we have such great and unique challenges that it's gonna be really good for this team regardless."
Stevens added: “Because, to have to go into Cleveland with that level of intensity, with that level of attention, distraction, etc., is great. It's great to experience that in game one. A tremendous learning experience for our group. So, we're preparing to play as well as we can. And we know that they're really, really good. But this is, I'm looking forward to it because I want to find out where we are.”

Hayward added, “It’s a fun first game to start the year. Regardless of what happens, we’ll have some improving to do and things to get better at.”