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Hamstring keeps Rays' Crawford out of starting lineup

Carl Crawford came up a little gimpy after sliding to catch Paul Konerko’s fly ball on Thursday. Tuesday, he did not start for the second straight game but did pinch hit.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Carl Crawford came up a little gimpy after sliding to catch Paul Konerko’s fly ball on Thursday. Tuesday, he did not start for the second straight game but did pinch hit.

BOSTON — LF Carl Crawford was a surprise scratch from Tuesday's starting lineup when it was revealed he underwent an MRI in Alabama on his sore right hamstring/knee.

The scan revealed nothing serious, and the All-Star flew to Boston in time to pinch hit in the eighth. He's slated to start tonight, but with what he labeled a "strain on the back of my leg," Crawford likely will have to play through pain for a little while.

"It's one of those things you either have to play through it, hope that it stops or stop playing," Crawford said. "Since we're in the middle of things, you don't want to go on the DL."

Crawford said the recent 10-game homestand on the Trop turf wore him out, and the Rays wanted to make sure he was okay. With their St. Petersburg-based orthopedic physician, Koco Eaton, in Paris, Crawford flew to Alabama to see James Andrews on Tuesday before joining the Rays just before game time.

Eric Hinske started in his place in leftfield, but after Crawford grounded into a fielder's choice in the eighth, he played in the field.

"I can't bend my knee," Crawford said. "Whenever I bend my knee, that's when I hurt. I'm going to have to shy away from sliding catches for a little bit."

Maddon said even though everything appeared fine, the Rays will be cautious with him until the soreness subsides. Crawford, a four-time AL stolen-base champ, has only three in his past 19 games. And he was unexpectedly not in the starting lineup Sunday before entering late as a defensive replacement and making a diving catch in the eighth.

"It takes a way just a little bit of your explosiveness," Crawford said. "It's something I've got to build back up."

NO PAPI, NO PROBLEM?: With slugger David Ortiz on the 15-day disabled list with a left wrist injury, Maddon was asked what impact that would have on the Rays' pitching approach. Maddon said though it might impact matchups later in the game, he respected the Red Sox lineup, especially Mike Lowell, whom he quipped is "no day at the beach."

Maddon's feelings proved correct when Lowell delivered a two-run homer in the second off Matt Garza and J.D. Drew's homer in the fourth gave the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.

NEW FOR NAVI: C Dioner Navarro said he was as surprised as anyone when he was placed in the second spot in the order Tuesday, replacing Crawford. Navarro is hitting .338, and Maddon believed his versatility made him an ideal fit for the slot.

"The thing about that is (Navarro is) a switch-hitter," Maddon said. "There's a lot of things you can do with him. He plays a pretty complete game. He's not fast, but he's a very good baserunner. If you look at his on-base percentage hitting left-handed (.404) … I'm just trying to get people on base in front of the (Nos.) 3, 4 and 5 guys."

DRAFT DAZE: The Rays haven't said anything official, but word among scouts from other teams is they have narrowed their choice for the top pick in Thursday's draft to Georgia prep SS Tim Beckham and Florida State C Buster Posey. The Rays last said they also were considering Vanderbilt 3B Pedro Alvarez, San Diego LHP Brian Matusz and California prep C Kyle Skipworth.

MISCELLANY: OF Rocco Baldelli, on the disabled list since spring training (mitochondrial disorder), is slated to be the DH in another extended spring game today. … The Red Sox surpassed 1-million in home attendance Tuesday in their 27th game, the earliest ever. The Rays, on the other hand, are at 626,239 after 34 dates.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith @sptimes.com.

Hamstring keeps Rays' Crawford out of starting lineup 06/03/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 2:36pm]

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