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Crisp gets start in center

Crisp starts, Ellsbury sits in Game 2

TOKYO -- Stuck on the bench for Opening Day, Coco Crisp was in the lineup for Wednesday's two-game series finale in Tokyo against the Athletics. The switch-hitter took Jacoby Ellsbury's eighth spot in the batting order and replaced him in center.

Why the switch?

"The way our schedule is, we want to get as many people involved in these first two games as possible, because we have time off in between," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "With a hard thrower like [Rich] Harden, I thought it was a better chance today to play Coco as opposed to yesterday."

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Ellsbury made a spectacular catch while running into the wall in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game, but Francona said that had no factor in the lineup switch.

"He just hit [the wall] hard, kind of awkwardly. He's OK," said Francona.

Because of various factors -- the trip to Tokyo cutting Spring Training short, Crisp's recent groin injury -- Francona hasn't been able to clearly outline the center-field situation.

"I don't know what the outline is and [Crisp] knows that," Francona said. "I just told him to be patient during this trip, because he hasn't really had his legs under him a whole lot. But he's shown to be pretty healthy. That's why we're playing him tonight. I can't promise guys stuff that I don't know, but I know I'll promise him that I'll communicate with him and be honest with him.

"I'm not sure that I have all the answers to this one. I'm not sure I'm supposed to. I just know I want to win every game we can and put the right lineup out there, and when we do that, I owe guys conversations, because that's part of my responsibility."

Francona has never been a fan of a strict right-left platoon, and there doesn't figure to be one in this case.

"I don't know that it's necessarily the best way for us to win," Francona said. "I think there's different styles of pitchers. There are ways to get good players in games. It never fails."

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

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