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Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford says back is still hurting, is likely to remain out until at least Friday

TORONTO — Carl Crawford's back was still so sore Tuesday, it hurt just to move around, and the All-Star leftfielder said he can't see returning to the field until Friday against the Tigers at the earliest.

"I hope I'm playing by Detroit. … I don't know how it's going to be feeling by then," Crawford said. "Right now, I don't think I'll be doing anything (before then), to be honest with you. The way my back feels I can't see myself running or catching. I can't even bend down and bend straight up without having some kind of problem."

Crawford left Monday's game when he couldn't get comfortably into his ready position in the field, and though undergoing constant treatment and taking "all kinds of medication," he remained sore and speculated his back was bruised or jammed.

The Rays believe it's just temporary tightness — "nothing severe," manager Joe Maddon said — and that he'll be fine with a few days' rest. They are off Thursday and will play on natural grass for four days in Detroit.

"At this point medically we feel okay about it," Maddon said. "It's really, truly a day-by-day situation."

They're actually kind of banking on his prompt return and are willing to play shorthanded, with just two position players on the bench, Tuesday and again tonight. If Crawford isn't better by Friday, they are likely to a) send him for tests and b) add another position player.

Crawford, 28, had trouble sleeping Monday and was in obvious discomfort as he moved gingerly around the clubhouse Tuesday afternoon. He is concerned because he has never had back problems, and he said he won't return until he is sure he is 100 percent over it.

"I don't think it should be a big deal but I'm going to take every cautionary measure," he said. "If I can't play the way I want to play, then obviously I'm not going to play."

Crawford can't isolate when the injury occurred Monday but thinks it has to do with playing 10 consecutive games (nine at home) on artificial turf. Coincidentally, Maddon had planned to give him Wednesday off so he'd get two days of rest.

"That was already part of the plan," Maddon said, "and then the rug beat us to it."

EXTRA HANDS: Though carrying eight relievers, the Rays don't have the flexibility on the 25-man roster to send down one of the extra arms and bring up an outfielder, such as Matt Joyce or Fernando Perez.

That's because the only relievers who have options are the two they use most to protect late-inning leads, J.P. Howell and Dan Wheeler, who aren't going anywhere. To make room, they might have to part ways with a veteran, such as Brian Shouse (4.58 ERA) or Chad Bradford (15 hits in 52/3 IP).

Meanwhile, they are exploring all kinds of creative options in the event of an in-game injury or ejection, such as giving up the DH to use Pat Burrell on defense or even putting a starting pitcher in the outfield. Also, they're having catchers Gregg Zaun and Dioner Navarro take ground balls at first and third. "Both of them are actually pretty comfortable," Maddon said.

BILLY BALL: The Rays weren't surprised to see the division rival Red Sox continue bulking up by adding experienced reliever Billy Wagner, even at the high cost of $3.65 million for limited usage over the final six weeks.

"The Red Sox make those moves," Scott Kazmir said.

"It's nice to have that kind of dough," Maddon said.

MISCELLANY: Navarro's second-inning walk was his first of the season against a lefty in his 117th plate appearance. … The Rays improved to 23-23 vs. lefty starters; they are 46-33 vs. righties. … The Rays are 11-3 against Toronto and have won all five series. … Rehabbing 2B Akinori Iwamura was 2-for-5 with two doubles for Triple-A Durham. … Third-round draft pick OF Todd Glaesmann had a memorable pro debut: He grounded out for the GCL Rays Monday against Boston big-leaguer Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was rehabbing.

Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford says back is still hurting, is likely to remain out until at least Friday 08/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 1:10am]
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