Carl Crawford eyes return

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford (elbow/wrist) will play for Triple-A Pawtucket this weekend and believes he'll be ready to be activated after the All-Star break.

"We won't know how things go until you get there," Crawford said. "I'm taking it day to day right now, and that's how we're approaching it and we'll see. I'd like to get back as soon as possible, but we'll have to wait and see."

Crawford is 7 for 24 (.292) with a double, a triple, four runs scored and seven walks in eight minor league rehab games. He recently played a pair of games for Double-A Portland.

Pawtucket will host Syracuse on Saturday and Sunday at McCoy Stadium.

"I feel closer than I did before," Crawford said. "We're getting there."

The left fielder had wrist surgery in January, but suffered the elbow strain during spring training and that remains a concern.

"It's not 100 percent healthy," Crawford said. "But I'm ready to hit, so I've said whenever I'm ready to start hitting the ball, then I'll play. There are still some issues with the elbow.

"I've been making some throws in the minor leagues good enough to hit the cutoff man, so I don't know if I'll be hosing anybody out at home, but it's strong enough where I can hit the cutoff man and if I can get to the ball quick enough, I can stop guys from advancing."

Crawford added that if the discomfort gets to a point where he can't handle the pain, then he reluctantly would accept the need for surgery.

"Probably," he said. "At this point, that injection I got didn't really do too much. I'm at a point now that I can get by with it, so I'm going to try to do that."

During his brief two-game stint with the Sea Dogs, Crawford was joined by fellow rehabbing outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder).

"It was good to get back out there in the outfield with him, just to get the feel for that again," Crawford said. "Hopefully, we can be playing together again soon sometime. He looks pretty good. He got a couple of hits and ran down a few balls. He looks good."

The All-Star break, which starts Monday, is normally a welcome time of the summer for all players, but in the case of Crawford and Ellsbury, the timing will serve as a challenge because they won't be able to play.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said the Sox might attempt to have some sort of simulated game for both players next week at Fenway Park.

Crawford, knowing the limited number of games in the coming days, said he'll do whatever it takes to be ready for a possible return to the lineup next Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"I'm gonna try. I'm gonna try to do whatever I can to be ready," he said. "I've got a few more games in Pawtucket and I don't know what the schedule will be over the break, but I'll do everything I can to be ready."

Once he's able to return to the Red Sox lineup, Crawford hopes to be healthy and productive.

"I'm just gonna try to go out and play my game and contribute the best way I can," he said. "I don't know what kind of impact I'm going to make, but I hope it's a good one."

In other Red Sox injury news, right-hander Clay Buchholz, who has been on the disabled list since June 20 with esophagitis, is on track to rejoin the rotation on either its first or second turn after the break, Valentine said Friday.

"He threw a 'pen today," Valentine said. "He's feeling great. He's throwing well. His 'pens have been very good. His weight is all back."

Outfielder Scott Podsednik, on the DL since June 18 with a groin strain, was examined Friday and could be activated this weekend.

And third baseman Will Middlebrooks, out the past three games with a tight left hamstring, is at about 75 percent but was planning to play at some point this weekend. Valentine said he could be available to pinch hit Friday night against the Yankees.

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.