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Rays' Crawford making case for postseason

Carl Crawford reacts after getting hit by a pitch while facing Pirates minor-leaguers at the Trop.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Carl Crawford reacts after getting hit by a pitch while facing Pirates minor-leaguers at the Trop.

Carl Crawford hopes to simplify manager Joe Maddon's decision to possibly place him on the playoff roster. He'll get his last chance to make that point in a second rehab game with the Rays' instructional league team today at Tropicana Field.

Crawford's first opportunity went well by his estimation, despite finishing 0-for-4 on Monday against Pittsburgh minor-leaguers.

"I think I did enough today," said Crawford, who had surgery on Aug. 14 to repair tendon damage to his right middle finger. "I didn't get hits, but I showed them bat speed and (today) I'll probably do the same thing. If it's a tough decision after that, I really don't know what to say."

Maddon watched Crawford play before departing for a meeting, and they did not discuss the leftfielder's future.

Crawford came off the disabled list on Friday and entered twice as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement in the regular-season-ending series at Detroit. He has not batted in a game since his injury on Aug. 9. He was batting .273 with 10 triples, eight home runs and 57 RBIs and had stolen 25 bases.

Hitting coach Steve Henderson, who observed the game with head trainer Ron Porterfield, said that he "didn't see any effect" of the injury and that Crawford "looked good." Crawford's main concern, he said, is timing issues after missing 44 games. Crawford agreed.

Crawford was allowed to bat each of the first five innings, popping out to short on a 2-and-0 count in the first, flying to the warning track in centerfield in the second, striking out swinging on an off-speed pitch in the third and popping out to second in the fourth. He was struck between the shoulder blades on a 3-and-2 pitch in the fifth, stole second and later scored.

Crawford hit 72 pitches from minor-league catching coordinator Jamie Nelson before the game, initially flicking outside pitches to leftfield but gradually pulling line drives into the alleys.

Crawford said eight days ago he expected to have to play with constant pain but reported no discomfort on Monday.

"I don't really have an explanation why it got better," he said. "It's just the way it was."

Crawford, 27, had also worried that a recurrence of the injury had been described by doctors as potentially career-threatening, but the longest-tenured Ray is determined to play in the franchise's first postseason.

"That can happen any time, you know?" he said. "That could happen two months from now, it can happen next year. It can always happen. That ain't no big deal."

Rays' Crawford making case for postseason 09/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:22pm]
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