SEATTLE — LF Carl Crawford returned to the lineup Thursday at about 85 percent and said he expects his mildly strained left hamstring to get stronger as the Rays play 10 straight games on natural grass.
But he's not sure how it will hold up when they return to Tropicana Field and said he might need some days as the DH to be able to play every day, which could cause some serious lineup issues for manager Joe Maddon.
"Instead of playing every day on the turf," Crawford said, "hopefully (Maddon) can work in a DH (role) here and there."
The Rays have 19 games remaining at the Trop. They return for three games with the Angels on Aug. 18-20, then go to Chicago for three games before an extended homestand, nine games against the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees (plus the next three on turf at Toronto).
For Crawford to be the DH against a right-hander, Maddon would have to drop Cliff Floyd from the lineup. "I'll have to take a look at it," Maddon said. "Hopefully he'll feel okay, but if not, we'll try to figure it out."
Crawford, who missed three games, said an MRI exam Tuesday confirmed he had a mild strain, but he expects, for now, to play every day: "That's there, but I feel more comfortable playing on this grass than I did on the turf."
BARTLETT, BALDELLI ON HOLD: SS Jason Bartlett said his bruised right index finger continues to improve but pain when releasing the ball prevents him from returning to the field.
"Swelling is what's causing the pain," Bartlett said. "When I release the ball, there's a lot of pain, and it's almost like the ball is sailing."
Bartlett, who is able to hit, hopes to be back at short tonight, which would be good news for him and OF Rocco Baldelli, who won't be activated until the Rays are sure Bartlett is healthy and they can make room on the roster by likely sending backup SS Ben Zobrist back to Triple A.
Baldelli would be a welcome addition to the lineup Saturday, when the Mariners are expected to start LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, and Sunday against R.A. Dickey.
Baldelli has been with the Rays since Sunday waiting to be activated, but having last played in the majors May 15, 2007, he is keeping the delay in perspective.
"I wouldn't say it's been too difficult," he said. "I've waited a long time, a few more days won't be that hard. I'm waiting patiently."
DEPTH HURT TOO: Triple-A Durham SS Reid Brignac is going to be sidelined for at least a few weeks with a fractured left wrist after being hit by a pitch Wednesday.
HISTORY: Both CF B.J. Upton and Maddon said Wednesday's benching over a lack of hustle the night before was behind them.
"Ancient history," Maddon said.
"It's over with," said Upton, who showed a noticeable amount of hustle early in Thursday's game. "There's not much you can do about it, there's nothing to dwell on."
AND MORE HISTORY: The Rays on Wednesday became the second team in five weeks to score six runs in the bottom of the ninth with no outs, joining the D'backs, who did it against Milwaukee on July 3. Before that, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, it happened once in the previous 46 seasons — by Boston vs. Seattle on April 10, 1998.
PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price, who looks more and more likely to be joining the Rays sooner than later, won again for Double-A Montgomery on Thursday. He threw five shutout innings, striking out seven, allowing three hits and four walks. He is 11-0 in 15 minor-league starts with a 1.87 ERA.
MISCELLANY: Jonny Gomes is 4-for-9 in his first two games with Triple-A Durham. … 1B Carlos Pena on Wednesday became the 10th player all time (and the only active) to hit walkoff homers for four teams — the A's, Tigers, Red Sox and Rays. … Thursday was the start of the longest road trip of the season — 10 games in 11 days.