|ESPN.com: Baseball||[Print without images]|
Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery Tuesday to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, a source told ESPN on Sunday night.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, however, denied that a decision on Crawford having surgery had been made. The Red Sox said earlier Sunday the team planned to meet with Crawford and members of the Red Sox's medical staff on Monday to make a decision on if and when Crawford would have the surgery.
"We want to make a focused decision tomorrow on what's best for Carl," Cherington said. "Listen to him, look at all the available information and figure out if this is something that needs to be fixed (immediately) or if he can continue to play with it."
Crawford, who played left field and batted second in Sunday's series finale against the Yankees, underwent wrist surgery in January, causing him to open the season on the disabled list. While rehabbing at the team's training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., he subsequently hurt his elbow, an injury the team announced on April 27 as a sprained ulnar collateral ligament. He missed the team's first 89 games before returning on July 17, but days before his activation, he acknowledged he had thoughts about having Tommy John surgery.
Crawford has maintained that Dr. James Andrews, the orthopedist who examined him in April, told him that he ultimately would require Tommy John surgery, a position repeatedly challenged publicly by both Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine, who have said that surgery was not necessarily required.
"I think we were hopeful and I've been hopeful we could avoid it," Cherington said Sunday. "I think part of the reason to let him play, and he wanted it, he wanted a shot to play just to see. There are times a player can get out there with an injury and for whatever reason it doesn't affect them and can play out there for a long time.
"We're always hopeful to avoid surgery. That's always the first choice, so I think we talked about it in the past our hope was that we could treat it conservatively. We felt that surgery was a possibility if the symptoms didn't go away and if he felt like he couldn't play at a high level for a long period of time."
"I don't know about the decision," Valentine said after Sunday night's 4-1 loss to the Yankees. "We're going to circle it tomorrow, what the whole thing's going to be. Carl's given everything he has and from everything I gathered, the elbow situation is trending the wrong way, and if that's the case, I guess a decision will be made one way or another.''
Cherington admitted he was more resigned that surgery is necessary now than he was a month ago.
"Yeah, we're further ahead," he said. "It was not my intention to suggest or portray in any way there was a fundamental divide. There was a decision to treat it conservatively even though the day it was diagnosed that of course eventually there was a possibility there could be surgery.
"We are where we are today. He's played well. To his credit he's gutted through this for the team. I think we've had enough time now to know, we have enough information to get together with him tomorrow and try to make a decision for the rest of the year."
Teammate David Ortiz voiced his support for Crawford after Sunday night's game.
"You've got to take care of yourself," Ortiz said. "If you're injured, you're injured. Nobody has Tommy John because it's fun.''
According to two people with close ties to Crawford, the left fielder was reluctant to tell the Red Sox he would like to shut down playing and have the surgery because he was afraid of how that would be perceived -- by his teammates, by management and by Red Sox fans, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reported Saturday.
Asked whether the situation is weighing on Crawford, Cherington said, "He's been asked about it a lot. I don't want to speak for him, but I think most people would say playing with an injury is different mentally than playing completely free of worrying about that sort of thing and of course he's been asked about it a lot. I don't know if its distracting for him, but he's dealing with it."
Cherington said using Crawford as the DH could hypothetically help in the short term, but hasn't been seriously considered.
"I think in our situation, what Carl is paid to do, we need to focus on what's best for Carl, what gives him the best chance to be the player we know he can be for the longest period of time over the length of his contract," Cherington said. "I suppose there's a scenario in a parallel universe where DHing might make sense for some period of time but I'm not sure it's this one."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.