For Carl Crawford, his two seasons with the Red Sox have been marked by poor performance and injury. But at least this one is over with.
The left fielder will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Thursday and could be ready for Opening Day in 2013 if all goes well.
The surgery, which involves transplanting a tendon from a different part of the body to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow, is usually performed on pitchers and requires 9-12 months to return.
But position players can return in as early as seven or eight months. The Red Sox medical staff was able to get pitchers Rich Hill and Daisuke Matsuzaka back ahead of schedule this season and Crawford could benefit from that experience.
Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed Crawford as having a ligament tear in April, will perform the surgery. The Red Sox tried a conservative route, hoping that rest would enable Crawford to avoid surgery. But after 31 games, the decision was made to go ahead with the operation and allow Crawford to get started with rehabilitation.
Crawford approached the Red Sox with the idea over the weekend.
“It became clear over the last few days surgery was going to happen. It was a question of when,” general manager Ben Cherington said Monday. “We felt like after talking this weekend, and with Carl, that the right thing to do was get it taken care of now.”
“Carl had played through the injury and played pretty well. But it wasn’t getting any better. The symptoms were getting worse. We decided to get it taken care of now.”
Crawford hit .282 with 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 177 at-bats this season. But he acknowledged playing in pain and felt from the start that surgery would be necessary.
With five years remaining on his $142 million deal, getting Crawford healthy took precedence for the Red Sox over his playing out the final weeks for a team with little hope of making the playoffs.
Crawford hit .255 with 11 home runs, 56 RBIs, and only 18 stolen bases for the Sox last season.
This is the third time the 31-year-old will go on the disabled list since joining the Red Sox, a troubling sign given the size of the team’s investment in him.
Crawford had surgery on his left wrist in January and started the season on the DL after irritating the injury during spring training. When he started playing again in April, he tore the elbow ligament while throwing.
Two of baseball’s most underachieving teams start a three-game series Tuesday night when the Angels arrive at Fenway Park.
Los Angeles has lost four straight and 15 of its last 22. They have dropped into third place in the American League West and were 4½ games behind in the wild-card race entering Monday night.
The Sox and Angels have yet to play this season. They will play six times in the next 10 days.
With Crawford out, Daniel Nava is one of the players who could help replace him in left field.
Nava played his second minor league rehabilitation game for Triple A Pawtucket Monday, going 1 for 3 with a solo home run against Rochester at McCoy Stadium. Nava has been on the disabled list since July 29 with a sprained left wrist.
Hill also moved closer to a return, throwing one scoreless inning. He struck out one and threw six of his eight pitches for strikes. Hill has thrown 3⅓ innings in his rehab assignment so far.
Pesky laid to rest
The funeral for Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky was held in Swampscott. The 93-year-old passed away last week.
The private ceremony was attended by a large number of representatives from the organization including Cherington, John Henry, Larry Lucchino, Bobby Valentine, and many of the players.
The team is planning for a memorial service to be held at Fenway Park later this season.
Red Sox designated hitters are just 29 of 123 (.236) without a home run since David Ortiz went on the disabled list with a strained right Achilles’ tendon July 17. If Ortiz is able to run without pain Tuesday, he could be activated later this week . . . Jackie Bradley Jr., the organization’s top outfield prospect, suffered an ankle injury while playing for Double A Portland Tuesday and was helped off the field. It’s not known how serious the injury is.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.