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Crawford on DL, Baldelli back



Crawford LF Carl Crawford is on the 15-day DL with a right hand injury that he said could sideline him for 6-8 weeks and possibly require season-ending surgery, though the Rays say they don't yet know the severity of the injury or how long he is likely to be out.

"It ain't looking good either way it goes,'' Crawford said this morning.

Rocco Baldelli has been activated for the first time since May 2007 and is starting in rightfield and batting cleanup.

The Rays will use Monday's off-day to discuss further options, with the possibility of recalling Justin Ruggiano or Jonny Gomes from the minors, of using Ben Zobrist in the outfield (once Jason Bartlett returns to shortstop) and/or seeking outside help by trading for a player who cleared waivers.

The Rays are officially calling Crawford's injury "right middle finger tendon subluxation'' and head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield said to was too early to predict how much beyond the 15-day DL period Crawford will be out until he sees team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan today in St. Petersburg. "I wouldn't even put a timeframe on it right now until our doctor sees him,'' Porterfield said.

Crawford, who was to fly back to Tampa Sunday afternoon, said he was hurt on his final at-bat Saturday, checking his swing on a 3-1 pitch before a 10th-inning walk.

"I felt my hand pop," Crawford said."I don't really know yet (what's wrong) I just know it's real sore. ... I felt it last night and I thought it was something I could just shake off, but when I got to the outfield and tried to play catch and I knew it was worse.''

Porterfield said Crawford told him after playing the field it "felt like a rubberband snap"  and that his "finger locks."

The problem, Porterfield said, is that the tendon that runs the length of the finger is "out of the groove" and slides over to the side of the third and largest knuckle, which is a sign of damage to the tissue that holds it in place. "More than likely he's disrupted that,'' Porterfield said, "so it's not holding that tendon in the proper grove." Crawford is "point tender" on the spot.  The finger can be manipulated back into place and it feels fine, but as soon as it is flexed the problem reoccurs.

Porterfield stressed that there was no way to predict how long Crawford will be out until further diagnosis, but said in general the problem could be fixed by putting the finger in a split and resting it, or it could have to be repaired surgically, with the tissue reconstructed.

"At this point in time, with our situation, we're going to do whatever we can to get him back on the field as soon as possible,'' Porterfield said. "So whether that's splinting it and trying to let it heal or whether it's intervention at some point in time, I wouldn't even be able to tell you until he sees that specialist.''

Since the injury on his non-throwing hand, the bigger concern is Crawford's ability to grip and swing the bat.

Crawford's absence would be a significant blow to the Rays'  hopes to make the postseason for the first time as he is is one of their top overall players, hitting .273 with 8 homers and 57 RBIs and leading the team with 69 runs.

"Carl's been one of our best clutch hitters recently, specifically, and obviously everything else that he brings, his defense in the outfield, his speed on the bases, his veteranship, all that stuff's going to be missed,'' manager Joe Maddon said.

Baldelli Baldelli is playing for the first time since May 2007, and shaved his scraggly beard, as he had planned, upon being activated. He has been sidelined since spring training trying to manage a rare muscle fatigue condition and played the field sparingly during his rehab assignments, and no more than five innings at a time.

Maddon said he and Baldelli will communicate to monitor his health. "It's exciting to have him back,'' Maddon said. "He's going to start the game and we'll see where it takes us.'' But he said they won't plan on using Baldelli on an everyday basis in the outfield.

Baldelli said he was told after Saturday's game that he would be activated and in the field, but didn't know all the details. Just do what they tell you, rightAs soon as he arrived Sunday, he said he immediately went to watch video of Mariners' starter R.A. Dickey, who he'd never seen. "We'll see how it goes,'' Baldelli said. "I'll let you after the game.''

Eric Hinske is in leftfield today, and Cliff Floyd is the DH. Gabe Gross will be kept in reserve to potentially replace Baldelli. 3B Evan Longoria and SS Jason Bartlett remain sidelined.

The lineup:

Iwamura, 2b
Upton, cf
Pena, 1b
Baldelli, rf
Floyd, dh
Zobrist, ss
Hinske, lf
Aybar, 3b
Riggans, c
Jackson, p

(Pictured - Carl Crawford and Rocco Baldelli. AP photos. Click to enlarge.)

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:37am]


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