CLEVELAND — Carl Crawford probably wishes Bobby Valentine hadn’t mentioned that the outfielder’s surgically repaired left wrist was sore Sunday and that’s the reason he came out of the 14-1 win over the Indians in the fifth inning. But with the cat out of the bag, Crawford wondered whether he needed a cortisone shot.
This was bad news because Crawford’s three doubles and three RBIs were part of a 16-hit Boston onslaught. Crawford has looked more and more like the Crawford of old, collecting big hits and driving in big runs, so news of a sore wrist stings.
The Red Sox can ill afford to lose Crawford with David Ortiz (Achilles’) still on the disabled list with no timetable on his return and Will Middlebrooks (broken right wrist) likely done for the season.
Valentine tried to temper the situation by saying the wrist is not a big issue and that Crawford was taken out for precautionary reasons so the “minor issue” would not become a major issue.
Crawford seemed annoyed that his manager volunteered the news to the media. “He did?’’ said Crawford. “What did he say?”
When told what Valentine said, Crawford acknowledged, “Yes, it was a little sore today.”
Asked whether it was a concern, Crawford said, “Maybe it’s a concern to him since he brought it up to you guys.”
Crawford had wrist surgery last winter and a setback in spring training, but had pretty much recovered and may have come close to starting the season on time before elbow problems flared up. He wasn’t activated until July 16.
“You know, it is what it is. I’ve been playing with pain [mostly in the elbow] the whole time,’’ said Crawford. “It’s one of those things where [the wrist] was a little more sore than other days today. Yeah, today was the first day I had wrist issues.’’
Crawford acknowledged the pain in his elbow probably won’t go away until he has surgery.
“Yeah, that’s no secret,” Crawford said.
Crawford said he may need Tommy John surgery after the season, but he’s been trying to play through it. The wrist had not been a concern until Sunday.
“It’s been five months since I had a shot and it hasn’t bothered me most of the time. It’s probably just time for another one. Over time, using it, sliding, using the top hand and trying to hit the ball hard, I’m pretty sure it makes it sore after a while. If the game was close, I definitely would have stayed in the game but we had a big lead and we thought it was a good time. I didn’t think it was too much of a big deal,” he said.
At times since he’s returned, he’s shown glimpses of yesteryear — the Tampa Bay Crawford. The guy who used to be a one-man wrecking crew against the Red Sox, when he’d often single, then steal second and third.
“Them were the good old days,” Crawford said.
“Yeah, that’s the stuff he used to do to us,” Ortiz said. “We used to play Tampa Bay and Carl used to beat us all on his own. It shows you how important your health is, man. He’s trying to put the injuries behind him and just letting it rip.”
“He was one of the most electric players in the game,’’ said Nick Punto. “The things he could do athletically were off the charts. We’re starting to see that again. He’s fun to watch when he’s playing like that. We’re going to need him.”
Apparently the sore wrist couldn’t have bothered Crawford that much. He rolled out of bed and started hitting and running.
“I’m just trying to slow everything down and take everything one at-bat at a time right now,’’ Crawford said.
Pedroia has been impressed with Crawford’s approach at the plate and how it affects the rest of the lineup.
“He’s been swinging the bat great,’’ said Pedroia. “When he’s doing that it makes my job easier. He and Gonzo just got to keep it going. Carl had a tough go of it with the wrist and elbow injuries. Now he’s swinging the bat the way he’s capable and swinging great.”
Adrian Gonzalez appreciates how Crawford has injected life into Boston’s sometimes lethargic offense.
“He was an electric player and when he puts the ball in play he’s running around and making things happen like the Carl I remember.,’’ Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to miss that much time. It takes a while to get timing. We’re going to need him.’’
Dealing with injuries has to be trying for Crawford. He has said that if the Sox fall out of the races he would consider having elbow surgery sooner so he could be ready to play in April. The wrist situation is different.
Players often have lingering problems after wrist surgery.
Crawford said doctors never told him he might experience soreness like he did Sunday, so there’s reason for concern.
With the offday Monday, Crawford could get some treatment or tests on the wrist.
If he must have a shot, he would likely need to miss a couple of days for the injection to be effective.
This is the last thing the Sox need.
Especially at a time when Crawford looks like the old Crawford.