Crawford on DL for only 2d time in career

BOSTON -- Carl Crawford made his first trip to the disabled list since 2008 when he was placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring, an injury he incurred Friday night while beating out an infield hit in the first inning.

“It’s never a good thing to go on the disabled list, but we just have to do what we have to do,” Crawford said after Saturday night's 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. “We’re hoping for a speedy recovery.”

Crawford is eligible to come off the DL on July 3, when the Sox will be completin a three-game set against the Astros in Houston, Crawford's hometown. “I definitely won’t want to miss that series,'' he said. "We’ll be cutting it close, that’s for sure, so hopefully things will get better soon.”

Crawford said his hamstring was still "really sore" Saturday night.

“A hamstring injury, you don’t want to mess with that,'' he said. "You see a lot of guys try to come back too early and then they mess it up and end up being out even longer, so we just want to make sure that when I come back, I’ll stay there.”

Crawford's place on the roster was taken by outfielder Josh Reddick, his second call-up this season. Reddick hit .385 (5 for 13) with a double and 4 RBIs when he was recalled May 26 to take Darnell McDonald's place when McDonald went on the DL. Last season, he hit .194 in 29 games for the Sox. He is batting .236 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs for the PawSox. Reddick was batting just .147 (5 for 34) in his last 10 games for Pawtucket, but he came out of his slump in a big way Friday night, hitting two home runs against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he will use a combination of Darnell McDonald, Mike Cameron, Reddick and Drew Sutton in Crawford's absence. "Just kind of piece it together a little bit,'' Francona said.

McDonald was in left and Cameron in right against Brewers left-hander Randy Wolf Saturday night.

"I think the medical people thought at best it was going to be 10 to 14 days [recovery time],'' Francona said of Crawford, who was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain, the least severe. "I called him and talked to him this morning, he gets it.”

McDonald went hitless in three at-bats Saturday and is 1 for 11 with two RBIs in two starts since his recall from Pawtucket. He singled in a run and scored another in Boston's 4-2 win in Wednesday night's rubber match against the Rays, and made a terrific running catch in center field while starting in place of Jacoby Ellsbury.

McDonald made the most of his rehab stint in Pawtucket, batting .345 (10-29) in 9 games while posting a .457 on-base percentage and .655 slugging percentage. Francona said the regular playing time was useful for McDonald, who had played sparingly for the Sox in the season's first two months.

“He got banged up a little bit, he went down to AAA, and we tried to use that to our advantage,'' Francona said. "He got consistent at-bats... Now, if he gets a chance to play, which he probably will, he’s got a better chance to help us be the type of player that [he was] last year. Hit an occasional ball out of the ballpark, steal a base, give us good at-bats, play good defense, and that’s what he’s doing.”

Crawford last went on the DL in 2008, when he missed most of August and September with a subluxation of a tendon in the middle finger of his right hand. That was the only time in his career he was on the DL, although he missed the last 12 games of the 2007 season with a left groin strain.

Crawford is hitting .243 with an on-base average of just .275 as he tries to recover from the worst start of his career. His return to Tropicana Field this past week was a quiet one, as he had just a single in 10 trips against the Rays in his first time back to the Trop since he signed as a free agent with the Sox.

Darren Hartwell is an intern for ESPNBoston