ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Carl Crawford has missed all 89 Red Sox games, his season delayed by wrist surgery, a strained elbow ligament, and then a minor groin injury.
But now he’s finally set to return. Crawford was given a day off from his minor league rehabilitation assignment Sunday and is set to be activated off the disabled list for Monday’s game at Fenway Park against the White Sox.
Crawford played in 11 minor league games, going 11 of 36 (.306) with eight walks and two stolen bases in three attempts.
He also played enough left field to test the soundness of his elbow. Crawford is fearful of needing surgery at some point, but he has shown enough arm strength to hit the cutoff man.
Given the long layoff, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine isn’t counting on Crawford to do too much at first.
“I’m not expecting any immediate impact,” Valentine said. “Just expecting him to be one of nine, a guy who can go out there and be a contributor. I hope he’s healthy. I think if he’s healthy, he’ll do fine.”
Crawford’s teammates are looking forward to his being back in uniform.
“I’m excited for him,” Adrian Gonzalez said. “It’ll be exciting for him and hopefully he can be himself and help us put together a really good run to get to the playoffs.”
Crawford hit .255 with only 11 homers and 56 RBIs in his first season with the Red Sox after signing a seven-year, $142 million deal.
Dustin Pedroia knows that trades are part of baseball. But he will find it strange to see Kevin Youkilis playing for the White Sox.
“We’ll always feel he is part of us. He was here for a long time. It’s going to be weird seeing him in another uni,” Pedroia said.
“I’m sure [the fans] are going to give him a nice ovation. He played his butt off for a long time. He was pretty respected for the way he played and the way he went about his business. I’m sure they’ll show their appreciation for him.”
Youkilis is hitting .295 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 16 games for the White Sox since the June 24 trade. He spent 8½ seasons with the Sox, earning two World Series rings.
“He’s a great player, man,” Pedroia said. “You knew it was only a matter of time when he got on the field consistently that he would perform well. He brings energy.”
Pedroia (thumb), who is planning to come off the disabled list Thursday for the final game of the series, stays in contact with Youkilis through text messages. But seeing his old friend in the other dugout will take some getting used to.
“We’re trying to win. But it’s going to be weird,” Pedroia said.
Youkilis was given several loud ovations at Fenway Park on the day he was traded and long has been a fan favorite. But for some reason, he’s not sure what kind of reception to expect.
“I don’t know. Probably a good reaction,” Youkilis told reporters in Kansas City, Mo., where the White Sox won, 2-1, Sunday. “But after the first day, they don’t want me to do well playing against your team. So you never know what you are going to get. I think it will be a good reception.”
Youkilis is looking forward to the reunion.
“It will be a different feeling, different dugout and all that stuff. Different emotions, but you have to bear down and really focus. I think once the game starts, that’s all you really play for.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some people. It will be good to see some players I played with and people that have been around that city. It will be good to see some people and some friends that live there, and a few friends I made for a lifetime.”
Sox rookie Will Middlebrooks, whose play led to the trade, also is eager to see Youkilis.
“He did a lot for me,” Middlebrooks said. “It’s going to be fun, for him and the fans and all of us to get to see him.”
Atchison on DL
Righthanded reliever Scott Atchison was put on the disabled list with tightness in his forearm. The Sox tried to avoid it, having Atchison throw before the game as a test. But the discomfort was there when he tried to throw breaking pitches.
“Our biggest fear was trying to [get] through it and being sore and maybe not pitching at my best for a month and then something pops up because I compensated,” Atchison said.
“Get it fresh, get it right, and have a good strong last two months. I’m not too concerned. Don’t want to be on the DL but I understand health at the end is what’s important.”
Atchison probably could use the break. He has thrown 46 innings out of the pen, the most in the AL this season. He has a 1.76 earned run average.
Junichi Tazawa was recalled from Triple A Pawtucket. He relieved Josh Beckett in the seventh inning and allowed two hits before being taken out.
Papi and Ted
David Ortiz is the first Red Sox player to have at least one hit and one walk in nine straight games since Ted Williams in 1950. Ortiz has hit safely in 10 straight . . . Beckett has gone nine starts (and 60⅔ innings) without allowing a home run, his career best and the longest such streak for a Red Sox pitcher since Derek Lowe went 12 starts from 2001-02 . . . Right fielder Cody Ross had an embarrassing moment in the sixth inning. Elliot Johnson singled to right then raced to second when Ross casually fielded the ball and flipped it in. “It’ll never happen again,” Valentine said. “Inexcusable. He knows it.” . . . Gonzalez was 2 for 4 and played seven innings in the field despite a sore lower back that kept him out for two games. “It doesn’t feel all that great. But I could play through it,” he said. Gonzalez hopes to play Monday, depending on how his back survived the flight back to Boston . . . Ryan Sweeney sat out resting a sore left hamstring. He said it’s not serious enough to require a DL stint . . . The White Sox have not named starters for Wednesday and Thursday. Gavin Floyd was scratched from Monday’s start because of a sore elbow but could pitch on Wednesday. Floyd beat the Sox with 6⅔ strong innings April 29.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.