OAKLAND, Calif. — Jason Bartlett's throws still aren't right.
But they're finally good enough that he has been cleared to return to the field, available for late-inning duty Wednesday and in line to soon — possibly today, more likely Friday — make his first start at short since his right index finger was bruised when hit by a pitch Aug. 3.
"Obviously it doesn't feel great, but I'm throwing, I can actually throw," Bartlett said. "The only bad thing there's cutters, and they're sailing a lot. It's just a matter of trying to get that feeling back again."
Bartlett said "I could go out there and play right now" but admitted: "It's just a matter of being close to 100 percent. Obviously 100 percent I don't need to be, but I want to be able to make that throw in the hole and make a double play throw."
Bartlett wore a pad on the finger Wednesday, plans to limit his throws between innings, has experimented with using his middle finger more and intends to "kind of take it easy out there."
Despite extensive treatment, Bartlett said he still has a bone bruise, and the longer-than-expected healing time has been "so frustrating."
Bartlett showed "pretty significant" progress throwing before the game with infield coach Tom Foley, but manager Joe Maddon wanted to see how he felt today before deciding whether to start him.
BARRY BOOSTER: Giants GM Brian Sabean didn't want Barry Bonds around his team anymore but said "it would be smart" for the Rays to sign the controversial free-agent slugger.
In a Tuesday XM Radio interview excerpted on the Web site mlbonxm.blogspot.com, Sabean said:
"I certainly think if he DH'd for somebody, even at this late juncture in the season … it doesn't take much for him to get ready, we all saw that in spring training, after 10 at-bats he'd get bored. … I think it would be smart for Tampa Bay because they are in a very unique position … as history goes with baseball with a chance to win that division against those two counterparts is pretty amazing."
The Rays still don't appear to be interested.
PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price isn't perfect. Price's Triple-A debut wasn't particularly smooth Wednesday, as he allowed seven hits and three runs and lasted just four innings, throwing 80 pitches (50 strikes), and he sustained his first pro loss (in his 16th start).
On the plus side, Price said he felt good, struck out six and didn't walk any in Durham's 7-6 loss to Norfolk.
"They were hitting everything tonight," Price told the Herald-Sun of Durham. "This is Triple A; they were hitting good pitches and bad pitches. The hitters are just better, period. I feel good that I didn't walk anybody. I threw strikes, just not enough strikes. At least I made them put the ball in play. You can't have your best stuff every night."
C.C. SURGERY: LF Carl Crawford will have outpatient surgery by Dr. Donald Sheridan this afternoon in Phoenix to repair the radial sagittal band of tissue that is supposed to hold in place the tendon on his right middle finger. Crawford will need six to eight weeks to recover and is likely to miss the rest of the regular season. The injury — the subluxation of the tendon — is considered rare among baseball players.
MISCELLANY: Seattle's Raul Ibanez is the kind of hitter that could help the Rays and is reportedly on waivers that expire today, but — as with other players — is likely to be claimed by a team in front of the Rays. … OF Rocco Baldelli said he was "very happy" with how he felt after his most extensive action, playing seven innings in the field Tuesday and batting four times. … Sunday's game was added to the FSN schedule.