PAWTUCKET — Carl Crawford has 142 million reasons to play for the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
The injured outfielder also has 142 millions reasons why he should shut himself down, undergo Tommy John surgery like he hinted at last weekend, and start planning for the future.
When Crawford does return to the BoSox, he will not be 100 percent. That hasn’t stopped him from looking ahead to Monday, which is when the 30-year-old hopes to play in his first major-league game of what to date has been an empty vessel of a season.
“We’re taking it day by day. That’s a day (meaning Monday, when the Red Sox host old friend Kevin Youkilis and the Chicago White Sox) we’re trying to reach,” remarked Crawford following his 2-for-3 offensive showing Thursday evening as Pawtucket ushered in the second half with an 8-5 defeat against Buffalo. “I feel the pressure of everybody wanting me to be out there. I’ll try to get as many at-bats, and that’s the fastest time that we could think of.”
Thursday saw Crawford begin his second 20-day minor-league rehab assignment after the previous one was halted due to a groin strain. He started the season on the disabled list, recovering from surgery on his left wrist. He then partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow in April, a setback that has not improved with time and rest.
Crawford has resigned himself to the likelihood of undergoing off-season surgery. The question remains as to whether he’ll be able to contribute in a meaningful capacity before the pain persists to that point that it becomes intolerable.
As Crawford noted, there are expectations surrounding him that only grow with each passing day, and he’s growing impatient with the clouds of doubt that are seemingly hovering over him.
“The pressure to play? I want to be out there myself. I know the fans want me to be out there, the management -- everybody wants you to be out there, plus you want to be out there. It’s a mixture of all that,” he said. "It's definitely frustrating for me because you know I want to be out there and I'm not a guy that likes to make a lot of excuses, so I want to be out there. But at the same time, I have to be careful. There's a fine line between trying to explain why you're not out there and why you're still on the sidelines."
See CRAWFORD, page C3
Crawford saw a total of eight pitches in his three at-bats. He grounded out to second in the first inning before faring a little bit better in the third, when he blooped a single that hugged the left field foul line.
Pinned in an 0-2 hole in his third at-bat in the fifth, Crawford sent a line drive into center field that completed his night at the plate. He went from first-to-third on a double by Ryan Lavarnway before scoring on a RBI single by Lars Anderson.
The biggest test for Crawford came in left field as his injured elbow was asked to make several throws. Buffalo twice singled to left field but neither time put Crawford to the test. He did, however, short-hop the cutoff man both times.
"When I'm throwing, I just said whenever it happens, it happens. But I'm not going to hold back once I get on the field. When I take that field, I'm going to go all out,” Crawford said. “It's a little concern, but like I said once I cross those white lines and get on the field, I'm not going to worry about it.”
Crawford plans to play nine innings for the PawSox on Friday and again on Saturday before taking Sunday off.
The Bisons scored four times in the top of the ninth, erasing what was a 5-4 deficit. Clayton Mortensen recorded the first two outs in the frame before a throwing error by Anderson opened the floodgates. Buffalo took advantage of five walks in the ninth to improve to 47-45 on the season.