BOSTON -- Carl Crawford celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday by continuing his recent surge at the plate.
Crawford led the Red Sox with three hits, a steal and an RBI to help the home team avoid a sweep against the Twins in a 6-4 victory at Fenway Park. He's the only Boston player since at least 1918 to have three hits and a steal on his birthday.
"You like to do well on your birthday, you always hope for the best on your birthday," Crawford said.
The outfielder is batting .333 (12-for-36) with two doubles, one triple, three home runs and nine RBIs in his last nine games. He's starting to resemble the player who was a four-time All-Star with the Rays from 2002-10.
"It's funny, because that's what he's done for 10-plus years now," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "To me, it's not a surprise, I'm just glad he's doing it for us instead of somebody else. I said that last year and I'll say it again this year, he's somebody on your team you need to have. It's tough to find a guy with five tools like that, and he does."
What's most impressive about Crawford's recent hot streak is that he's carried it over through eight straight games.
When Crawford received a day off in New York on July 28, manager Bobby Valentine said it was part of a medically mandated program in which the outfielder would need to rest every few days.
Crawford is playing with a UCL injury in his left elbow that might eventually require surgery.
However, as Crawford continues to get more comfortable, it appears the enforced days off might not be needed.
Since returning from the disabled list on July 16, Crawford has been out of the lineup twice.
"Well, like we said, it was all part of a rehab process where they wanted to make sure that he was ready to go," Valentine said before the game. "Once he passed those tests ... we're playing it day by day, and being that it's his birthday, I'm thinking the least he should do is play today."
Valentine's decision to stick with Crawford has paid dividends.
"I'd like his birthday to be every day," said the manager after Sunday's win. "He was hitting with two strikes. He was hitting the ball hard, stealing bases. You saw it. Advanced the runner. Had a [darn] near perfect game. When he's like that, it can make a big difference."
Meanwhile, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup on Sunday -- one day after resting a minor leg injury. He went 1-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI.
Dice-K, Bailey make rehab appearances
BOSTON -- Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka and reliever Andrew Bailey each made Minor League rehab appearances on Sunday.
Matsuzaka pitched three-plus innings in his second rehab start with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Matsuzaka allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits against Lehigh Valley. He struck out three against one walk and threw 75 pitches, an increase from his 47-pitch outing on Monday.
The right-hander left the game with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Matsuzaka, recovering from a right upper trapezius strain, reached 92 mph on his fastball.
Bailey made his third rehab appearance, this time with Double-A Portland. His previous two outings came with the Gulf Coast League Red Sox.
On the mend from right thumb surgery, Bailey threw 27 pitches in an inning of relief against Erie. He entered the game in the seventh and allowed one run on three hits. Bailey struck out two and reached 94 mph on his fastball, mixing in a cutter and curveball.
Fellow injured reliever Rich Hill is not ready for a rehab assignment, but the left-hander threw a bullpen session at Fenway Park before Sunday's series finale against the Twins. Hill has been on the 60-day disabled list since June 10 with a left elbow strain.
"He looked good, felt good," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "[He] shouldn't be that far [from a rehab assignment], but there's no definite schedule, I don't think."
Ortiz might get alternate treatment for Achilles
BOSTON -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, frustrated that his right Achilles hasn't healed enough for him to return to the lineup, indicated he will speak to team doctors as early as Monday about an alternate treatment.
"I'm thinking about it. Not cortisone," Ortiz said. "I have to talk to the doctors. I have to get more information. The doctors have given me some ideas, because I'm still very sore. I have to talk to them to see what's up."
Ortiz last played for the Red Sox on July 16, straining his Achilles when he had to start and stop on a home run by Adrian Gonzalez.
He initially hoped he would be back in the lineup the first day he was eligible to come off the disabled list. But Aug. 1 came and went, and Ortiz still finds himself in the one place he doesn't want to be -- the bench.
Ortiz wishes the injury would heal quicker.
"Of course," said Ortiz. "I haven't played in the past three weeks and I still have pain. I'm not worried about getting worse, because I know I'm getting better. But the pain won't go away. I don't know if that's part of the healing process, I don't know. Some days I feel better, and the next day is going to be even better, and the next day it continues to be sore. We'll see. After I work out and do things, I get really sore, too."
Ortiz wasn't sure exactly what the doctors would have in mind.
"I'm not going to get an injection. No way. They're not putting anything in that spot right there," said Ortiz. "What they've been talking about is like anesthesia. It's like when you go to the dentist and they try and numb something. That would be around the tendon, get rid of some of the inflammation. It's something to think about. I'm going to get some information about that."
Ortiz is hitting .316 with 23 homers and 58 RBIs for the Red Sox, and was their most consistent force before the injury.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.