08/11/08 9:43 PM ET
Hand specialist examines Crawford
Course of action still undetermined for slugger's injured finger
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Crawford is still going through the evaluation process and expected to know more on the situation late Monday night or Tuesday morning.
A two-time American League All-Star, Crawford was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Sunday's game with a subluxation of his right middle finger tendon. The injury was suffered during Crawford's final at-bat on Saturday night, as he reported he heard something pop when he checked his swing on a 3-1 pitch.
The injury is located at the base of the middle finger of his right hand at the joint connecting the finger to the hand. The tendon used to straighten the fingers has come out of its groove, which causes the finger to lock into position when he bends his finger downward. He must push the tendon back into place to again straighten his finger.
A defensive anchor in left field, Crawford was hitting .273 with eight home runs and 57 RBIs and was also in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak.
"It's not good," manager Joe Maddon said. "Carl's been one of our best clutch hitters recently, specifically. And there's everything else he brings, his defense, his speed in the outfield and on the bases, his leadership. All that stuff is going to be missed."
Although outfielder Rocco Baldelli was activated on Sunday to take Crawford's place, Baldelli is still battling a mitochondrial disorder -- chronic fatigue -- and the team has been hesitant in using the 26-year-old for anything other than short bursts.
"He came out of [Sunday's] game feeling very good," Friedman said of Baldelli. "It's unrealistic for us to count on him on a daily basis."
Friedman said the Rays will continue to monitor Baldelli's progress and will use him as needed in right field or as designated hitter.
The club also recalled Justin Ruggiano from Triple-A Durham to help bolster the outfield in Crawford's absence. Ruggiano will assume the roster spot vacated by Evan Longoria, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured right wrist on Monday.
"Obviously, Carl is a premiere defensive left fielder in baseball," Friedman said. "And with Ruggiano we will feel he will at least help feed into that a little bit."
Ruggiano is hitting .315 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs for the Bulls, and will be serving his third Major League stint this season. In 15 games for the Rays, Ruggiano has gone 9-for-31 (.290) with a home run and two RBIs.
As a right-handed hitter, Ruggiano will join the left-handed bats of Eric Hinske and Gabe Gross to give Maddon more options regarding specific matchups. Switch-hitter Ben Zobrist is another option in the outfield that could be utilized once Jason Bartlett returns to the field, as Zobrist has been filling in for the starting shortstop.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.