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Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford injured when struck by pickoff throw

BALTIMORE — Four-time All-Star Carl Crawford was sore but relieved after a scary incident when he was struck in the groin by an errant pickoff throw and ended up in an ambulance and then a nearby hospital for extensive tests.

The result was an ominous-sounding "testicular contusion,'' but the prognosis encouraging, with the possibility he could play today, though more likely Friday in Cleveland.

"He's as good as can be expected; for all us males, we understand how difficult that can be,'' manager Joe Maddon said. "He was in a lot of pain, it was a very difficult moment for him.''

"It caught me square, it couldn't have hit (me) in a better spot,'' said Crawford, who doesn't wear a protective cup. "It just took the wind out of me.''

Crawford had reached base on a fielder's choice grounder after Ben Zobrist opened the game with a walk. Crawford was scrambling back to first, trying to get his left foot on the base, when Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta's throw sailed past the glove of 1B Ty Wigginton, an ex-Ray, and struck Crawford directly in the groin. Wigginton retrieved the ball and tagged out Crawford, who was off the base when he was on the ground.

Crawford's departure caused considerable shuffling in the field, as Maddon had shuffled the lineup again, part of a plan to give Reid Brignac more opportunities and Matt Joyce more time in rightfield.

Jason Bartlett, who was supposed to be off, went into the game at shortstop. Brignac moved from short to second, Zobrist from second to right and Joyce from right to left.

WHEELS UP: RHP Dan Wheeler was walking around with a wrap on his right foot and only a slight limp Tuesday, relieved he had a bruise and not a broken bone.

Wheeler was struck on the top of his right foot by a line drive in the ninth inning Monday. He tested it immediately, entering Tuesday's game in the 12th inning and allowing the tying run to score.

JOLTIN' JAMES: RHP James Shields has lost eight of his past 10 starts and has a 7.30 ERA over the past eight weeks, but Shields insists he isn't far from turning things completely around.

"I'm a click away from being really good my last four starts," Shields said. "And that's a positive thing going into each start, and I'm going to take that into this one."

ROCCO'S ROUGH RETURN: Rocco Baldelli knows it's going to be a slow path if he gets back to the big leagues, and striking out in all four at-bats of his first game with Class A Charlotte on Monday certainly reinforced that.

"It's going to be a while I think," Baldelli said. "Normally I have the luxury of going to extended (spring training, a less formal setting) in anonymity and going out and getting ready that way. … Sure it's going to take a little while, but I'm ready."

Baldelli said he likely won't play again for the Stone Crabs until Thursday, in Clearwater, and figures to be limited to DH for a while.

MISCELLANY: ESPN's Jayson Stark reported late Tuesday that the Rays appear "to head the list" of teams interested in Phillies RF Jayson Werth. … Triple-A Durham LHP Carlos Hernandez is back on the DL with a hip injury. … Major-league veteran LHP Brian Shouse has thrown six innings for the Gulf Coast League Rays, allowing two runs and five hits.

Times sports columnist John Romano contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford injured when struck by pickoff throw 07/20/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 8:42am]

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