Crisp returns to action in Minors game

Crisp returns to action in Minors game

TAMPA, Fla. -- While the Red Sox were playing the Yankees 120 miles to the north, center fielder Coco Crisp made a significant step forward in his battle back from groin woes.

Crisp took five at-bats in Monday's Triple-A game at Boston's Minor League complex in Fort Myers, Fla., marking his first game action of any kind since March 2.

The switch-hitting Crisp, who had one hit, took three at-bats against righties and two against lefties. He was also caught stealing.

Despite his recent inactivity, the Sox have not ruled Crisp out for joining the team on the charter flight to Tokyo following Wednesday's Grapefruit League finale against the Blue Jays.

"We honestly don't know where we are yet. There's just no way to know," manager Terry Francona said.

The Sox will get more of a read on Tuesday, when Crisp again plays at the Minor League complex. He's hoping to get more at-bats right-handed in that game.

Outfielder Bobby Kielty, who returned from a calf injury by getting an at-bat on Sunday against the Pirates, also played in the Minor League game on Monday. He was 1-for-4 with a double and a walk. Kielty will join Crisp for Tuesday's Double-A game, which starts at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Clay Buchholz was the third Sox player to participate in Monday's Triple-A game. The right-handed starter had a productive day, firing four shutout innings and allowing two hits. Buchholz, who will next pitch in Tokyo in an exhibition game against the Hanshin Tigers on March 22, threw 53 pitches.

In addition to Kielty and Crisp, shortstop Julio Lugo will play in Tuesday's Minor League game. Lugo returned to action on Saturday after missing 12 games with a back injury. Francona will monitor the Minor League action so he can officially decide which players will go to Japan.

"That will probably give us a better idea of where we are with those guys," Francona said. "Then we can make decisions, because we need to tell people. Some guys are on hold. Everybody has been talked to. You can't tell people things you don't know."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.