Baldelli feels Crawford's pain

If Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford is looking for some advice on his current elbow injury, he should call his friend and former teammate with the Tampa Bay Rays, Rocco Baldelli.

Baldelli knows first-hand what it’s like to have elbow issues. The Rhode Island native, former big leaguer and current minor league instructor for the Rays had Tommy John surgery and missed all of the 2005 season.

He hasn’t spoken with Crawford and only knows what’s going on by reading the reports, the latest of which offered a less-than-encouraging outlook. The Red Sox announced Thursday that Crawford has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his left (throwing) elbow and that instead of surgery, the outfielder will follow a more conservative regimen. He’s expected out at least until the All-Star break and will be out much longer if it turns out he needs Tommy John surgery.

Badelli suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow in June 2005 while rehabbing a torn ACL in his left knee. He was taking ground balls and working out at the Rays’ minor league complex when he suffered the injury.

“I did it on one throw,” Baldelli said in a phone interview with ESPNBoston.com “I knew as soon as I did it that there was something really bad going on. I tried to play with it for a few games but I couldn’t realistically throw the ball 40 or 60 feet. My arm literally couldn’t do it.”

Baldelli informed the trainers and he was examined.

“There was no way around it,” Baldelli said. “I don’t remember if it was a rupture or a severe tear, but it wasn’t workable and there’s was nothing I could possibly do to play with it.”

It was determined he would need Tommy John surgery and it was performed by Dr. James Andrews shortly thereafter.

“I had the surgery and it came out pretty good,” Baldelli said. “The surgery was good and the rehab wasn’t as long as it is for a pitcher. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because with a pitcher it can be anywhere between 12 and 18 months, but I had the surgery that summer and I was back and ready to go the next year.”

Baldelli suffered a hamstring strain during spring training and was back on the disabled list in early 2006. He returned to the lineup on June 7 that season and started 85 of Tampa’s remaining 103 games. He batted .302 with 16 homers, 57 RBIs, 24 doubles and 6 triples in 364 at-bats in a total of 92 games for the Rays.

No matter if Crawford continues to rehab his elbow, or ultimately needs to have surgery, Baldelli believes his friend and former teammate will be in good hands.

“I know the Red Sox are capable and very in tune with what is going on with their players,” Baldelli said. “They’ve got some smart people over there.”