Notes: Crisp embraces competition

Notes: Crisp embraces competition

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Center fielder Coco Crisp has not appeared in a Grapefruit League game since Sunday, when he went 0-for-2 against the Twins. Tightness in both groin muscles, combined with a root canal Thursday, have kept him on the bench.

Jacoby Ellsbury -- Crisp's competition for the center-field job -- has started five Grapefruit League games in center. Although Ellsbury has struggled at the plate, he raised his average to .190 with a 3-for-5 day against the Marlins on Saturday.

Crisp maintains he is not frustrated to not be in the lineup.

"[I'm] just going day by day, doing whatever is normal," he said.

In 2006, Crisp played 100 games in center after an injury to his left index finger the first week of the season. Last year, he played 144 games at the position.

"I know what I can do," said Crisp, a career .280 hitter with 104 stolen bases (73 percent success rate) since breaking in with the Indians in 2002. "If anybody has any doubts, well, so be it, whatever. For a couple of years, there have been some situations. The other two years, I played fine. So I could really care less what everybody's talking about. It's kind of ludicrous, to be honest.

"So as far as the competition thing, Ellsbury's a solid player. He just needs a little bit more time to get ... established in the big leagues. In order to do that, you need more time in there ... to get used to the pitchers and things like that, in order to be a good ballplayer. I already did some good things in the big leagues. The last couple of years, I had some down seasons, and a lot of people got on me, but I could care less to be honest. ... I feel like if I was healthy ... I'd have been fine. But the whole competition thing, it is what it is. I just kind of sit back and relax and let it play out. And once it does, I'll kind of know where I need to go from there."

While Crisp, who has been taking batting practice, said he "probably" would be in the lineup Sunday, Sox manager Terry Francona said it would likely be Monday at the earliest.

Lugo a no-go: Shortstop Julio Lugo was out of Saturday's lineup with tightness in his lower back, missing his sixth consecutive game. He is expected to be examined by team doctors Monday.

The team that plays together ... The Sox held a four-inning simulated instrasquad game Saturday morning at City of Palms Park before the main attraction in the afternoon against the Marlins.

Michael Bowden pitched three innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks, striking out two. David Pauley went 2 1/3 innings, giving up two unearned runs on three hits and a walk, striking out two. Pauley's "Boston" team defeated Bowden's "Red Sox" squad, 5-2.

Francona said it will likely by the only such game this spring. With the team breaking camp March 19, innings are at a premium.

"We just needed four innings of pitching," Francona said before the game. "It's not perfect. It's OK, though. We're going to get to see some young kids from the Minor League complex, which is fun. We needed the four innings of pitching. Guys were going to start getting behind and we didn't want that to happen."

Several players from the intrasquad game stayed to serve as backups for the "A" game, including pitchers Mike James and Blake Maxwell, catchers Zak Farkes and Ty Weeden, infielders Jeff Natale, Ryan Khoury, Chad Spann and Lars Anderson, and outfielders Bubba Bell, Mickey Hall and Jeff Corsaletti.

Roster moves: The Sox reduced their roster to 46 players Saturday morning. Pitchers Edgar Martinez and Pauley were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. Pitcher Kyle Jackson and infielder Argenis Diaz were optioned to Double-A Portland. Non-roster invitee pitchers Bowden, Hunter Jones and Justin Masterson, and infielders Jeff Bailey, Tony Granadillo and Gil Velazquez were reassigned to the Minor League camp.

"Gator" back: Former Boston left fielder Mike Greenwell, elected to the Red Sox's Hall of Fame in February, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday's game against the Mets at City of Palms Park. A longtime resident of the Fort Myers area, Greenwell was one of six former players recently selected for the team's Hall of Fame, along with Bill Lee, Frank Sullivan, Mo Vaughn, the late Rick Ferrell and the late Everett Scott, scout George Digby and the late Edward Kenney Sr., who was a club executive for more than 40 years. The group will be inducted Nov. 7.

Greenwell spent his entire big league career with the Sox, hitting .303, with 130 home runs and 726 RBIs in 1,269 games from 1985-96.

Pap and the dog: Jonathan Papelbon on the 2007 World Series-clinching ball that was in his possession:

"What can I say? My dog ate it," he said.

Up next: The Sox travel to Vero Beach, Fla., to face the Dodgers on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. ET. Daisuke Matsuzaka starts for Boston, with Esteban Loaiza starting for Los Angeles. With the Dodgers slated to move to Arizona next year for Spring Training, this will be the Sox's last trip to Dodgertown.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.