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Crawford likely in, Jackson out for Rays playoff

ST. PETERSBURG — Carl Crawford, leftfield.

Edwin Jackson, left out.

Though nothing was made official Tuesday, the Rays were making plans to have Crawford, their two-time All-Star, back in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 9, and to leave Jackson, who won a team-high and franchise-record-matching 14 games, off the 25-man roster for the best-of-five AL Division Series that starts Thursday.

Crawford's return was expected given his recent progress, including an impressive showing in Tuesday's instructional league game, though he likely will bat sixth rather than go back to the No. 2 spot now occupied by B.J. Upton.

Jackson's exclusion — which the team did not confirm — was not.

But with the Rays naming Andy Sonnanstine to start Game 4 — following James Shields, Scott Kazmir and Matt Garza — the Rays felt there were better options for the bullpen, apparently including rookie lefty David Price, than Jackson.

"Who wouldn't be disappointed?" Jackson said. "It's just one of those cases … you can't really worry about what you can't control. You just have to take it as is and roll with what happens next when it happens. …

"I thought maybe I would be in the pen. But not being on the roster, that one hadn't crossed my mind, so, yeah, it was a surprise."

Decisions won't be official until Thursday's 10 a.m. roster deadline. Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays were close to 100 percent decided on the roster, which can be altered between rounds, but suggested another element could impact the final list.

"There is something else going on, and I don't think it's going to change, but it can, so we've got to wait 'til (today)," Maddon said.

That could involve veteran reliever Troy Percival, who Maddon said was cleared medically to pitch — which on Sunday was said to be the "only" issue — but his status had not been determined. Percival didn't participate in Tuesday's workout.

Maddon said "it was a difficult decision" between Sonnanstine, 13-9, 4.38, and Jackson, 14-11, 4.42, based on their bodies of work over "wonderful" seasons. "The overall consensus was the consistency of strike-throwing, probably, with Sonnanstine more than anything," Maddon said. "I also believe that right now Sonny is pitching as well as I've seen him all year."

Sonnanstine hasn't won over his past seven starts, with some impressive outings mixed with some less so, for an 0-3, 4.39 mark. Jackson on Sunday gave up a two-run homer in the ninth in an unscheduled closing appearance and instead picked up his third straight win.

The biggest difference between the two is control — Jackson has 77 walks in 1831/3 innings (1,178 balls among his 3,050 pitches); Sonnanstine 37 in 1931/3 (954 balls in 2,914 pitches).

"I knew it was going to come down to a tough decision and I'm just excited about the opportunity," Sonnanstine said. "Especially coming off a rough one, my last go round, so hopefully I can have a better one."

Getting Crawford back should be a boost, though the Rays went 27-19 after his injury. "It could be tremendous," Maddon said. "You send the lineup card over to the other side and it has his name on it, there's a lot more angst created than when it's not."

Crawford looked good and went 2-for-3 with a triple to the right-centerfield gap in an instructional league game Tuesday morning. The Rays originally said he would play again today, then later said they were satisfied and he would not play.

Maddon said he would initially bat Crawford lower in the order because he had surgery (Aug. 14) and missed so much time "and furthermore, it is the playoffs, it's not the middle of June where you could absorb a lot of different moments."

Crawford likely in, Jackson out for Rays playoff 09/30/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 2:25pm]
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