BOSTON — Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford was hoping to feel relaxed in his first game this season. It helped a lot to get a hit in his first at-bat.
The former Rays All-Star started in leftfield against the White Sox on Monday night in Boston's 5-1 victory after missing the entire season with left wrist and elbow injuries.
The Red Sox activated Crawford off the 60-day disabled list before the game, and the speedster went 1-for-3. He opened an eighth-inning rally with a walk and scored on Adrian Gonalez's tiebreaking three-run homer.
Batting second, Crawford singled up the middle in the first inning and later scored on Gonzalez's single.
"That definitely helps," he said of his first-inning single. "It helps you relax a little bit more and not worry about it so much, and then it kind of reminds you that you can still do it. So, that was good to get that knock out of the way."
He feels he's a bit more relaxed at the start of his season after a rough first year in Boston.
"That's what I'm trying to do, focus on just playing ball and not worry about everything else and just try my best to help the team win," he said.
Crawford's comeback helped the Red Sox spoil Kevin Youkilis' return to Fenway. Boston traded the three-time All-Star on June 24 along with cash to Chicago for utilityman Brent Lillibridge and a minor-league pitcher. Youkilis went 3-for-4 with two doubles in his first game back at his longtime home.
"I would say there's less drama all around," he said of being out of Boston.
Youkilis were serenaded with chants of "Yooooouk" when he stepped to the plate in the first.
"It was a great ovation. It was just a cool thing from the fans," he said. "I can't thank them enough for all the support they've given me."
The Red Sox received a scare when David Ortiz came up limping after rounding second on Gonzalez's homer and limped badly all the way to the dugout. Boston manager Bobby Valentine said he'll have an MRI exam on his right Achilles today.