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Rays' Crawford could be ready for Red Sox series

The Tampa Tribune
Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 06:25 AM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Although Tampa Bay Rays LF Carl Crawford was out of the lineup again Sunday against Arizona (he pinch-ran in the eighth inning), he said his strained left shoulder felt better and he could be ready for the Boston series.

"I was shooting for (Sunday), but it wasn't right, so I'll be shooting for Tuesday," Crawford said.

Maddon said it's more likely Crawford would DH than play the field if he's available.

"He did feel better (Sunday)," he said. "(Trainer Ron Porterfield) is a little bit encouraged. There's a shot at Boston - to be able to hit. I don't even know if it's, like, 50-50 or 60-40, but the hitting thing became a lot more prominent (Sunday)."

Crawford left Thursday's game against San Diego before the third inning after straining the shoulder the previous night on a throw home.

No Pedroia for Red Sox series

The Rays don't know whether they'll have Crawford available yet for their two-game series at Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, but they know they won't have to face Boston sparkplug, 2B Dustin Pedroia.

And that's a break.

Pedroia fouled a pitch off his left foot Friday night at San Francisco and suffered a non-displaced fracture of his navicular bone. He's on the 15-day disabled list and likely will be out longer.

"That's a big dynamic," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That fellow right there, God he's a pain. He just plays the game properly every day."

Pedroia got hurt the night after going 5-for-5 with three home runs in a wild Red Sox win vs. the Rockies. Against the Rays, he has hit .293 with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 57 games.

"That Pedroia, he's a grinder," said RHP Matt Garza, who'll start Wednesday for the Rays. "He's that wheel turner for them. They've got to find a way to duplicate what he does. ...

"Just that grittiness, the hustle and the hard play he does. There are very few guys who do that. The only one I can think of who plays as hard as he does might be Pete Rose. I've never liked the guy, but I love watching him play."

It was costly weekend for the Red Sox, who also lost C Victor Martinez (broken thumb) and starter Clay Buchholz (hyperextended left knee). Martinez and Buchholz will be re-examined today.

Tampa Bay swept Boston in a four-game series at Fenway Park on April 17-19, but Boston returned the favor with a three-game sweep at Tropicana Field on May 24-26.

Faith in Kapler

If the Rays bring back OF Gabe Kapler (right hip flexor strain) this week, and Crawford doesn't go on the DL, they'll face a tough roster decision.

Options include sending SS Reid Brignac (.272, two HRs, 24 RBIs) to Triple-A Durham to play every day and designating DH/IF Hank Blalock (.254, one, seven), but the Rays may be thinking of something else.

Kapler, who was starting in right field against left-handed pitchers, was hitting only .217 overall and .215 against lefties when he went on the 15-day DL on June 12. He's 1-for-9 on his minor-league rehab assignment at Class A Charlotte.

Maddon said he isn't concerned about Kapler's average because of his .287 career average against lefties.

"Last year, if you remember, he struggled, and it was about this time he really caught fire," Maddon said. "A guy like Kap, for me, you've just got to keep putting him out there until eventually it comes back to him."

Odds and ends

CF B.J. Upton was roundly outplayed by his younger brother, Justin, in the series. Justin went 5-for-9 with a homer, one RBI and two walks, while B.J. went 0-for-9 with three walks, one run, one hit-by-pitch and one stolen base. ... Largely because their offense disappeared, the Rays finished interleague play 7-11 after going 13-5 last year. ... Maddon acknowledged that former OF Rocco Baldelli, whom the Rays hired as a special assistant during spring training, could have a different job at some point. Baldelli, who has not played this year because of a shoulder injury, recently added long-throw catching to his early batting practice. That has spawned speculation the Rays may see if he can help them. "That's in the back of everybody's mind, but I have no idea when that would happen," Maddon said. "He's definitely not ready for that right now."

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