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08/05/08 7:50 PM ET

Bartlett, Crawford remain out of lineup

Thursday at Seattle is target date for return of both players

ST. PETERSBURG -- Both Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford were out of the Rays' starting lineup again on Tuesday, and manager Joe Maddon said there is a chance the pair wouldn't be available until Thursday.

Bartlett was struck by a pitch on his right index finger during Sunday's game, and said his biggest concern would be gripping and throwing the ball. The Rays' starting shortstop took batting practice prior to Tuesday's game and reported to be in no pain after swinging a bat.

"There's some sensitivity in the fingertip," Bartlett said, gesturing toward his taped finger. "We're going to go out there and throw and see how it goes."

With Wednesday's game slated for a 12:40 p.m. ET start, Maddon was doubtful that Bartlett would start and said the move would "more than likely" happen Thursday.

Infielder Ben Zobrist was recalled from Triple-A Durham prior to Tuesday's game, and got the start at shortstop in place of Bartlett.

Maddon also said he "wouldn't hesitate" to use Zobrist in the outfield as necessary. With Crawford sidelined with left hamstring soreness, Zobrist will serve as the club's fourth outfielder for the next day or two.

Crawford approached Maddon prior to Monday's game and alerted the skipper that something was wrong. Hamstring soreness is nothing new for the All-Star left fielder, and Maddon has often tried to give Crawford double days off on Tropicana Field's artificial turf.

Although he had yet to confer with Crawford, Maddon said on Tuesday that there was "a solid chance" the club would also postpone the outfielder's return until Thursday.

The Rays are scheduled to open a 10-game road trip on Thursday that will feature ballparks with natural turf -- in Seattle, Oakland, and Texas -- which should help transition Crawford back onto the field.

In the wake of the club's imperfect storm of injuries, outfielder Rocco Baldelli has been the odd man out.

Although Baldelli has been deemed healthy enough to play, the Rays are short on infielders and saw recalling the versatile Zobrist as the best move.

"A lot of it is based on what's going on right now, with the infield situation," Maddon said of Baldelli's in-limbo status. While the Rays' skipper believes Baldelli is ready to play, he wasn't so sure about putting him in the outfield for nine innings.

Baldelli has been sidelined since Spring Training with a rare mitochondrial disorder that causes extreme fatigue and the Rays have expressed caution in moving him along.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.