Crawford 'thought' about elbow surgery

BOSTON -- Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford said Sunday he gave some thought to having surgery to repair the sprained ligament in his left elbow, but elected to try to play instead.

"I thought about it," he said, "but at this point if I can play, I think they want me on the field, so I'm just trying to do everything I can to get back on the field."

As to whether it is best for him to play now, he said: "Right now, I feel if I couldn't help the team, I wouldn't get out there. I think helping the team right now is best for me."

Crawford's use of the words "right now" suggests he could have a change of heart depending on how well he plays and how well he tolerates the pain in his elbow. Asked whether doctors have told him he will definitely need surgery, he said: "Probably at some point. It's one of those deals, it is what it is. At some point it is going to go out on me."

Crawford expects that he ultimately will require Tommy John reconstruction surgery. The typical recovery time for position players who have the surgery is 6 to 8 months; the usual estimate for a pitcher is 12 to 15 months. Delaying the surgery for too long could put the start of the 2013 season in jeopardy.

The elbow does not hurt when he swings the bat, he said. It bothers him most, he said, when he is warming up before a game. He said he'll probably have to be careful when he throws, and focus on throwing to the cutoff man.

"It doesn't really hurt when I throw," he said. "It's weird -- when I'm warming up it's a little sore. But in action, making a throw, it doesn't bother me much."

Crawford said he expects to resume his rehab assignment Thursday in Pawtucket after it was interrupted because, he said, he "tweaked" his groin while legging out a triple Thursday night while playing for Portland.

He ran the bases Sunday effortlessly before the game.

"It's really not that big a deal," he said. "I feel fine. I ran today. I ran yesterday. My legs feel good."

Crawford pronounced himself almost ready to return to the Red Sox. No timetable has been announced, but it would seem a return next Monday, when the Sox come home to play the White Sox, is likely.

"I feel like I'm real close," he said. "I feel good. I feel like I can help the team out. That's what I'm going to try to do when I get back."