Valentine didn't know where he would bat Crawford -- he hadn't thought about Monday's lineup at all, he said. But the Red Sox were excited about the idea of getting back Crawford, especially on the heels of Jacoby Ellsbury's return Friday.
"With those guys coming back, it'll help us out a lot," third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. "It'll give us some range in the outfield and speed on the basepaths, for sure."
Asked if he thought Boston was ready to make a move up the standings, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia replied, "Always. Since Day 1 in Spring Training, I've felt like that. Getting Ells back obviously helps, and then looking forward to C.C. coming back when we get home. Keep everybody healthy and continue to play the game like we've been, and it's going to be good."
Valentine discussed some of the expectations Crawford might be dealing with as he makes his 2012 debut. The left fielder struggled in his first year with the Red Sox, batting .255 with a .694 OPS and only 18 stolen bases.
"I'm not expecting any immediate impact. Just expecting one of nine, a guy who can go out there and be a contributor," Valentine said. "I hope that whatever he needs is provided him from his surroundings. I hope he's healthy. I think if he's healthy, he'll do fine."
There are some questions as to whether he really is healthy, of course. Crawford has said he will eventually need surgery on the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, something Valentine hasn't expressed total agreement with. What happens if he makes an awkward throw from the outfield and finds his season cut short again?
"That's nerve-wracking," Valentine said. "I don't know if that's necessarily the case."
"We know that there are plenty of position players who have performed at a very high level with a UCL injury, and we believe Carl can do that," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said Thursday. "But he's got to go do it, and ultimately, he's got to be confident he can go do that. From what he's told me and what he's told our staff, he's focused on playing and wants to play. So that's what we're focused on."