ST. PETERSBURG — LF Carl Crawford returned to the Rays clubhouse Wednesday for the first time since his hand surgery last week. But when the two-time All-Star will be back in the lineup is still up in the air.
"I'm gonna try my best to get back as soon as possible," Crawford said. "I don't know how the rehab is going to go, but I'm definitely hoping for the best, and I'm trying to do the best I can to get back on the field."
Crawford, his right hand in a splint, arrived from Arizona, where he had successful surgery Aug. 14 to repair a subluxation in the tendon of his middle finger, suffered while checking his swing Aug. 9. Executive VP Andrew Friedman said earlier this month, when Crawford was put on the disabled list, that if everything goes perfectly, Crawford could be back for the final series in September.
Crawford said he hopes that's the case, but he is taking his recovery "week by week." He said his body feels great and his legs are well-rested after several days in his offseason home in Phoenix.
"The only thing I can't do is grip a bat with my right hand," he said. "The rest of it is fine."
Crawford plans to meet today with a hand therapist to get the next step in his rehab. He said he hasn't been running because he couldn't sweat due to his stitches.
The 27-year-old said it has been tough having to miss so many games, but he has followed his teammates on television and is not surprised they've continued their remarkable run without him and injured rookie 3B Evan Longoria. The Rays are 7-3 since Crawford went on the DL, 9-3 without Longoria.
"We've been winning like that all year long without certain guys in the lineup," Crawford said. "This is a team that's not built for one person to make it win; it's a team effort, so it didn't surprise me that they can win while guys are out."
PERCIVAL UPDATE: Closer Troy Percival, on the DL with cartilage damage in his right knee, said he plans to throw off the mound Monday for the first time since injuring himself while fielding a bunt Aug. 14 in Oakland.
"I could pitch right now," he said. "So we're just going to take a couple days; my arm is in great shape anyway. I'll probably throw a couple bullpens, and I'll be ready to go as soon as they're ready for me."
Percival, said he's surprised how good his knee feels. He's eligible to come off the DL Aug. 30.
MONEY TALKS: Manager Joe Maddon, who expected to get fined for comments he made after his ejection Tuesday night, said he hadn't heard from MLB, though it could take a couple of days. Maddon took issue with B.J. Upton getting tagged out after crossing first base on an infield hit. Umpire Jerry Meals ruled Upton had turned toward second after he crossed the bag. Maddon said the call was "fabricated" and "unconscionable." After watching replays, Maddon stood by his statement. "When you're right," he said, "sometimes it's difficult to fine somebody."
MISCELLANY: Former Rays RHP Al Reyes, who rejected an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham on Monday, signed a minor-league deal with the Mets and was sent to Double-A Binghamton. … Rocco Baldelli could get two starts this weekend against the White Sox, who will start two left-handers in the three-game series. … The Rays are 20-8 against teams in first place at the time. … Eric Hinske went 2-for-2 and is hitting .413 (12-for-29) in his past nine games.
Joe Smith can be reached at email@example.com.