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Craig seeking fresh start, Owens searches for groove

August 21, 2014

Allen Craig went 1-for-3 during a rehab start at McCoy on Wednesday, driving in two runs. (Photo by Louriann Mardo-Zayat |

PAWTUCKET – By no means did Red Sox newcomer Allen Craig set out to make himself a trade commodity when he signed his current contract with the St. Louis Cardinals in March 2013, one that bought out three arbitration years and his first year of free agency.
“When I had the opportunity to sign that deal, I was looking to secure my family first and foremost,” said Craig prior to his second rehab game with the PawSox on Wednesday night. 
With financial peace of mind in the forefront of his thinking, the thought didn’t occur to him that at the reasonable price of five years and $31 million, the first baseman/outfielder had become the kind of cost-controlled asset that many front offices covet – at least not until St. Louis traded Craig to Boston last month
Craig is not a trade deadline rental. If the Red Sox so desire, he will remain in their care until the conclusion of the 2018 season.
“Honestly, I’ve never thought about it like that. I just try to take it one year at a time and I’m always trying to prove myself to have a spot in the big leagues,” Craig said. “Obviously I would like to be with the Red Sox a long time and be able to stick in one place for a while. That means you’re doing something right. Boston seems like a great place and if things work out, that would be great.”
Craig signed the deal as a 28-year-old with three part-time seasons under his belt. He is scheduled to make $5.5 million next year in what will be the third year of his five-year pact. It will also mark his first full campaign with the Red Sox.   
“I anticipated being with the Cardinals for longer, but we’ve all been around this game long enough that when you sign any type of deal without a no-trade clause, anything can happen at any time,” Craig said. “I look at the (trade) as a bit of a fresh start.”
Wednesday saw Craig log five innings in right field and deliver a two-run single as part of a 1-for-3 showing. He landed on the disabled list earlier this month with a left foot sprain that came as a result of running the bases in his first game with the Red Sox.
As far as how John Farrell will use Craig … your guess is as good as the player’s.
“I don’t know how everything is going to play out, but hopefully I get a chance to play a lot. That’s all I’m looking forward to,” said Craig. “I just got here so I’m the new guy who’s trying to fit in. It’s been great being in the clubhouse with the guys and I think I know everyone pretty well, but I’m looking forward to getting out and playing because that’s when you start to develop relationships.”
Thursday will mark Henry Owens’ fourth start with the PawSox and his third at McCoy Stadium. After tossing 6.2 shutout innings in his Triple-A debut, the promising left-hander allowed four runs in back-to-back starts.
“He’s shown three major-league pitches and I like his confidence,” said PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur when asked what has stood out about Owens thus far.
If there’s anything to draw from Owens’ last two starts, it’s that he’s a long way away from the Eastern League. 
“It’s a big jump [to the International League] because these hitters are not just sitting on fastballs. These are guys who have been taught throughout the years to hit off-speed. He’s got very good off-speed, but it doesn’t matter. These hitters can hit change-ups and breaking balls,” Sauveur said. “He didn’t have the same stuff the last two times out that he had in the first start, which is when all of his pitches were plus-plus and better than major-league average. He has to learn that you’re not going to have your best stuff every night.
“He’s got to learn that he’s going to have to pitch. Yeah, he’s pitching down in (the lower minors), but his stuff was above those guys,” Sauveur continued. “Here you have guys on the verge of the major leagues and guys who have been sent back down. They’re pretty good. It’s not just a matter of throwing a fastball, changeup and curveball.”
There are few positives to take away from Jackie Bradley Jr. having been sent down to McCoy after struggling to get his bat going all season in the big leagues. But one such bright spot is that the center fielder reported to the PawSox on the very same day as he was given the news. Per the collective bargaining agreement, Bradley could have taken up to 72 hours before showing up to Pawtucket.
“It was a great first step and a credit to him that he wants to get to work and get things going in the right direction,” said PawSox manager Kevin Boles. “That first day he called and said that he was coming in and that he wanted to play. That’s all you need to know.”
EXTRA BASES: The PawSox welcomed back catcher Dan Butler after Boston optioned him to make room for David Ross. Butler was inserted into the game in the top of the fifth inning, replacing Ryan Lavarnway. … In need of an additional position player, the Red Sox called up Alex Hassan and sent knuckleballer Steven Wright back to Pawtucket. Boles says it’s unclear when Wright will be slotted back into the rotation. … Like Wright, Corey Brown will also have to be added to Pawtucket’s roster. The outfielder was spotted in the clubhouse after getting designated for assignment earlier this week. Brown leads the PawSox with 16 home runs. 
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03   

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