09/29/08 3:07 PM ET
Crawford plays in instructional game
Rays outfielder looking to prove healthy enough for ALDS
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
Crawford, a two-time American League All-Star, had five at-bats in the noon ET game at Tropicana Field, and while his finger remained taped, he said his swing wasn't compromised.
Maddon watched Crawford from the stands along with Rays hitting coach Steve Henderson, as the Rays outfielder played in his first of two scheduled games to plead his case.
Until being activated prior to Friday night's game against the Tigers, Crawford had been on the disabled list since Aug. 10, recuperating from surgery to repair the subluxation of his right middle finger tendon.
Although he went 0-for-4 on Monday, both Henderson and Crawford acknowledged it was more of a timing issue, since Crawford hadn't faced live pitching since the injury occurred. Crawford was also hit by a pitch, stole a base and scored a run.
"He looked all right," Henderson said. "I didn't see any effect [from the injury] from my standpoint as a hitting coach."
Neither did Crawford, who said his finger has steadily improved each week following Aug. 14 surgery and is now to the point where it is pain-free.
The 27-year-old is a career .293 hitter with 70 homers, 84 triples and 302 stolen bases over 6 1/2 seasons, all with the Rays.
Crawford was hitting .273 with eight home runs, 10 triples and 57 RBIs at the time of his injury. He also had 25 stolen bases and would be a huge boost for the Rays speed and defense in the postseason.
Crawford had one putout in Monday's game and is scheduled to play another instructional contest on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Tropicana Field.
Crawford is looking to regain his timing and expects to get another five at-bats. Crawford took batting practice prior to Monday's game, and he has been doing strength exercises to keep his conditioning.
One positive from Crawford's long absence from Tropicana Field is that his hamstrings have been given a proper chance to heal. The artificial turf has caused nagging soreness and cramping in Crawford's legs in the past, but Monday he reported his hamstrings to be feeling "great."
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.