Carl Crawford is ready to try again. The Red Sox left fielder will start an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket on Thursday.
The PawSox host Buffalo at 7:05 p.m.
Crawford played in eight minor league games in his initial rehab assignment before being shut down with what was described by the team as a mild left groin strain.
Under MLB rules, Crawford had to wait five days before starting a new assignment. The new assignment can last as long as 20 days.
Crawford started the season on the disabled list, recovering from surgery on his left wrist. He then partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow in April.
Crawford had 31 plate appearances in his first rehab stint. Given that he did not play in spring training, Crawford has said he would need at least 40 plate appearances before being ready to return.
As Crawford returns to the field in the minors, the Red Sox are expected to activate center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for Friday’s game at Tampa Bay.
Ellsbury, who has been on the DL since April 14 with a partial dislocation of his right (non-throwing) shoulder, played in eight minor league games and was 5 for 27 (.185). He did not attempt any stolen bases.
Ellsbury played in seven games before he was injured.
With Ellsbury coming back and Crawford going in that direction, the Red Sox are gauging trade interest in their other outfielders, specifically Ryan Sweeney.
Sweeney is hitting .283 but has not hit a home run in 180 at-bats this season and has 14 RBIs. The Red Sox are comfortable with Cody Ross in right field and can use switch-hitting left fielder Daniel Nava as a backup once Crawford returns.
A third prominent player, righthander Clay Buchholz, is set to be activated off the DL on Saturday. Buchholz last pitched June 19, then was placed on the DL with a stomach ailment.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.