BALTIMORE — LF Carl Crawford may be activated in the next day or two to be used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, but he said "it's not looking good" for medical clearance to rejoin the lineup for the first round of the playoffs.
Crawford, recovering from Aug. 14 right hand surgery, has been pushing to return, saying Wednesday, "I feel like I could play a game today if I had to."
But after hitting off a tee with no pain for a second straight day, he sounded much less optimistic about getting permission from Dr. Donald Sheridan to return in less than the scheduled eight weeks (today is six weeks), which he admitted left him "a little" frustrated and disappointed.
"We have to convince him and it's looking pretty tough to convince him right now," Crawford said. "It's frustrating sitting around when you know you can do something."
Crawford hoped to take batting practice with the team this weekend but said "they pulled back" and that is now unlikely. "If I'm not taking BP this week, the first round is looking a little iffy," he said. "That's what I was really worried about and that's what I'm a little disappointed about."
The Rays said no decisions have been made and more discussions need to be held.
"We're still trying to come to terms in regard to the specific scheduling," manager Joe Maddon said. "I know Carl feels good and I know he's champing at the bit and I appreciate all that. But … this is all about medicine and healing process."
Crawford conceivably could be ready for the playoffs even without taking batting practice, perhaps working out with the Instructional League team.
PERCY POWER: RHP Troy Percival said Wednesday his back felt good after another round of epidural injections, and he was confident he would be healthy enough to be on the postseason roster, but he acknowledged it could be "a tough decision" for team officials.
"Health-wise, I think I'll be fine," he said. "It's up to them on what they want to do to give them the best opportunity to win."
The Rays hope to pitch Percival twice in the final three days of the regular season to prove it.
"We definitely would like to have him be available, we just have to make sure that he is well," Maddon said. "If he's able to go and pitch effectively, no question (he'll be on the roster). We're a better ballclub when he's out there."
HOME BOYS: The Rays are still hoping to beat out the Angels for the best record in the AL, and the second-round homefield advantage that comes with it. Though trailing by two games entering play Wednesday, the Rays have the benefit of the tiebreaker edge since they won the season series.
PITCHING IN: Without, as team president Matt Silverman said, "one obvious choice" to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for a playoff game, the Rays submitted a bunch of names to MLB for approval. Among the likely: Gov. Charlie Crist, ESPN analyst/season-ticket holder Dick Vitale, Ryder Cup captain/Bradenton resident Paul Azinger and U.S. Central Command leader Gen. David Petraeus.
MISCELLANY: The Rays improved to 39-38 on the road. … LHP Scott Kazmir flew to Detroit on Wednesday afternoon joking that if the Rays clinched he'd have to celebrate by himself. … The Rays beat the O's for the 15th time this season, 12th straight. … It was their sixth four-game sweep. … 1B Carlos Pena's streak of having a walk and an RBI in eight consecutive games (ending Tuesday) was, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the longest since Ted Williams went nine straight in 1950. … OF Rocco Baldelli turns 27 today. … In addition to Monday's rally in St. Petersburg (see above), the Rays announced a Party in the Park at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Tampa's Lykes Gaslight Park.