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Carl Crawford wants to play through the pain, Bobby V on the first half and other Red Sox notes

07.08.12 at 9:39 pm ET

Carl Crawford admitted Sunday that most likely he’s going to eventually need “Tommy John” surgery on his ailing left elbow but said he is trying to play through pain to impress the team that is paying him $142 million over seven years.

‘€œThought about it but at this point, if I can play, I think [the Red Sox] want me out on the field,” Crawford said before Sunday’s finale with Yankees. “I’€™m just trying to do everything I can to get back out on the field. Right now, I feel like if I couldn’€™t help the team I wouldn’€™t get out there.

‘€œProbably at some point it’€™s going to blow out on me. It’€™s one of those things that is what it is.’€

As for his slight strain of his groin earlier this week, Crawford said it won’t keep him from playing on Thursday in Pawtucket.

‘€œJust treating it and staying stretched out and still doing stuff to make sure I’€™m ready to go,” Crawford said. “The thing is, I do that every year. It’€™s like spring training for me, so I’€™m starting back running again, and I always get tight in that area. It’€™s just one of those things that it always happens to me. We’€™re just taking care of it. I know how things are around here: Once you say one little thing, it goes way bigger than what it really is. That’€™s it pretty much.”

Crawford’s mood was very upbeat and optimistic about playing in the second half of the season, despite the left elbow.

‘€œI actually feel good, man,” he said. “That’€™s the thing. I’€™m ready to get back on the field. I was making progress in the games I was playing and feeling really good about that. At this point, I’€™m just ready to get back on the field.

“I think helping the team right now is probably best for me. It doesn’€™t really hurt when I throw in action. It’€™s weird. It’€™s like when I’€™m warming up, it’€™s a little sore. But when I’€™m in action making a throw, it doesn’€™t really bother me as much.

‘€œIt doesn’€™t hurt at all when I swing a bat. If there was some pain there, I’€™d probably have to sit down. I feel like I’€™m real close. I feel good, feel like I can help the team out. That’€™s what I’€™m going to try to do when I get back.

‘€œWe’€™ve got some guys coming back: me and [Jacoby Ellsbury, Andrew Bailey]. Hopefully Bard will be back up here at some point. We feel like we can still make a run at it. That new wild card has made it possible for teams to make it late in the season. Hopefully that’€™s the case for us.”

Still, the Red Sox have Crawford on track to make it back to playing sometime in the second half of the season.

“Carl might play Thursday at Pawtucket, and he’s feeling pretty good,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.

This week, Crawford suffered another setback in his minor league rehab assignment as he had minor tightness in his groin. Crawford said Sunday he’€™s hoping to play Thursday at Triple-A Pawtucket and is believes is “very close” to rejoining the Red Sox. ‘€œCarl might play Thursday at Pawtucket, and he’€™s feeling pretty good.’€

Valentine was asked to reflect on the first half of the season on Sunday, as the team attempts to deal with injury after injury.

‘€œI would say that it was extremely challenging,” Valentine said. “I don’€™t know how to rate it or anything, but major league baseball is very challenging. Managing a new team is very challenging and we had some situations that added to the mix.’€

‘€œAgain, it’€™s going to be a challenge. New guys, where they’€™re going to hit, how we’€™re going to play together and what kind of health we’€™re going to have is yet to be seen. But I’€™m very optimistic. The guys I have today I think we can win a ballgame with and the guys that I have after the break will be the same type of group.’€

There was much speculation about whether to place Will Middlebrooks on the disabled list with his left hamstring injury when it cropped up on Sunday in Seattle. The team decided to see if it would heal quickly enough for him to be available to pinch-hit in the Yankees series instead of placing him on the DL. On Sunday, Middlebrooks worked out at Fenway and Valentine was impressed and encouraged.

‘€œHe looked really good today out there running,” Valentine said. “He says he feels really good. Because it’€™s just one game and it could be five more days of safeness, I’€™m leaning towards not having him play.

‘€œUnless there’€™s a major setback somewhere between then and now. He looked really good running today, he did all of his agility work [and] he said he feels nothing.’€

Valentine announced part of the post-All Star break rotation on Sunday, as Clay Buchholz will start Saturday on the road against the Rays, barring any setbacks from his intestinal issues while Jon Lester will pitch a week from Monday at home against the White Sox.

‘€œHe looked pretty much the way we need him to look for those [43] pitches,” Valentine said of Buchholz’s Triple-A outing Sunday in Pawtucket, in which he threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings. “I’€™m glad he got his spikes wet in Triple-A. And he’€™s confident he’€™ll be able to give us some length in the second game out.’€

Valentine also suggested Jacoby Ellsbury is near a return.

‘€œWhen he’€™s ready, he’€™ll be ready. It’€™s probably getting pretty close,” Valentine said.

Read More: Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury
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