Notes: Crisp honored to wear No. 42
Center fielder will pay homage to Robinson on April 15
KANSAS CITY -- When it comes to wearing No. 42 on April 15 to commemorate Jackie Robinson Day, Red Sox center fielder Coco Crisp finds himself honored to the point that he's at a near loss for words.
"It's kind of hard to kind of talk about other than saying it's a great honor and I feel blessed to be able to do this," said Crisp.
Though No. 42 was retired for all Major League teams in 1997 -- excluding the players who were already wearing it -- Ken Griffey Jr. asked if he could wear the number on April 15 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Robinson's first Major League game.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig liked the idea so much that he suggested that all 30 teams make the number available on that day to a player who wishes to wear it.
The Red Sox will be hosting the Angels on April 15, and Crisp will proudly run out to center field with the number he last wore in high school.
"Well, it's obviously a great honor to wear the number," said Crisp. "He's done so much for us. His personality, obviously, was one of a kind, for all of the things he had to deal with, to get us to this point, not just African-Americans, but all minorities as well."
Crisp grew up in Los Angeles as a participant in the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program.
"Now, actually to be a part of something that's never happened before, it's pretty cool," Crisp said. "Thanks to Griffey speaking up, we get a chance to do this."
The last Red Sox player to wear No. 42? Mo Vaughn, who left the club following the 1998 season.
"It definitely means a lot to me and I feel honored. It's going to be a great day for me," said Crisp.
Drew staying hot: Right fielder J.D. Drew has carried his hit hot spring right into the regular season. The left-handed hitter had three hits in his first seven at-bats and made a key catch to rescue Josh Beckett from a jam in Wednesday's game.
So much for all the negative fan reaction the Red Sox got when they courted Drew over the winter. By the time the regulars line up for the Fenway opener on Tuesday, Drew figures to get a pretty nice reception.
"I know it was a hot topic when he got signed," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "But he knows how to play the game. He glides in right field. I went back and looked at that play. That was a tough play and it didn't look that tough. He sees the field really well."
The key for Drew is to stay healthy, and Francona feels that will be partly his responsibility.
"Staying away from things that keep him off the field, if we can do that, he's a really good player," Francona said. "There's going to be days where I need to be smart enough and it's not going to be a popular decision to keep him off the field so we can keep him on it longer."
Papelbon's layoff: Entering Wednesday, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon had not pitched in a game since turning his right ankle on March 29. However, the ankle is fine. There simply wasn't a game situation that presented itself for Papelbon during the first two games of this three-game series. Francona was hoping Papelbon would be needed to protect a lead in Thursday's game.
"Believe me, if there had been any gray area, we would have pitched him [Wednesday]," Francona said. "I think the hope was, maybe we need him today."
On deck: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will make his 2007 debut on Friday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET in Texas against the Rangers. He'll be opposed by Robinson Tejeda in the home opener for Texas.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.