OAKLAND, Calif. — The Rays may have to reach the playoffs for Carl Crawford to play again this season.
Crawford will have surgery Thursday to repair a tendon problem in his right hand and likely — though not absolutely — miss the rest of the regular season.
Crawford will need a six- to eight-week recovery before being able to return to action, Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.
"If every single thing went extremely well I'd say that there is a chance he could play in a regular-season game," Friedman said. "There's just such a small window that I wouldn't say it's likely, but there is definitely a chance."
Six weeks from Thursday is Sept. 25, when the Rays open the final four-game series of the season in Detroit. More likely, the Rays are hoping there are October games for Crawford to return to.
"So much of it will be based on how well the surgery goes, how the rehab is going and how his hand is progressing," Friedman said. "Once we get three or four weeks into this thing, we'll have a much better feel for whether or not he'll be able to return in the regular season, and if he were to be eligible for anything thereafter."
Crawford, who was injured in his final at-bat on Saturday, has a problem with the tendon that runs along his right middle finger being out of its groove as a result of damage to the tissue band that holds it in place.
After an exam Monday in St. Petersburg by team hand specialist Dr. Doug Carlan, the team consulted "a number" of doctors and "to a man" they recommended surgery, which Friedman said is considered "a fairly simple procedure."
The other choice was to put the finger in a splint and do rehab to see if it would stabilize. "It was deemed that it was pretty unlikely that it would fix it, that it would reoccur, and if it did there was a chance he hurts it worse and it's a much more involved surgery," Friedman said.
Crawford will have the surgery done in Arizona by Dr. Donald Sheridan, a top hand specialist that his agents have "a familiarity with," Friedman said. "I think it was a comfort thing. … We were fine with Dr. Carlan, we were fine with Dr. Sheridan, it's just the way it went."