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04/27/12 12:16 AM ET

Crawford has sprained ulnar collateral ligament

CHICAGO -- Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford has been diagnosed with an ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his left elbow and will be shut down from baseball activity.

"Carl Crawford was examined by the Red Sox medical staff," the Red Sox said in a news release on Thursday. "He was diagnosed as having a left elbow ulnar collateral ligament sprain. A conservative treatment protocol was recommended. Carl was also examined by Dr. James Andrews, who was in agreement with the assessment and plan. Carl received a Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injection and will be shut down from baseball activity during the initial phase of his treatment."

The Red Sox did not give a timetable as to when Crawford will return to action. Citing sources, multiple news outlets said that he is expected to miss three months, though Crawford disputed that in a text message to the Boston Herald.

"I'm good. It's just one of those things you can't control. I'm still looking forward to coming back strong," Crawford told the Herald.

News of Crawford's elbow injury first surfaced before the Red Sox's home opener. On Wednesday, manager Bobby Valentine said in an interview with WEEI that Crawford might have felt discomfort in the elbow in February. Crawford had left wrist surgery in January and then was shut down in Spring Training when he developed inflammation in the wrist. Previous to Wednesday, the elbow was believed to have be a more recent development.

"That stinks," third baseman Kevin Youkilis said upon hearing the news. "We need him to get healthy as quick as possible, because he's a great player."

Because the Red Sox are opting for conservative treatment instead of Tommy John surgery, this outcome would appear better than the alternative. Even so, manager Bobby Valentine admitted he wasn't sure what to think.

"It is what it is what it is. We'll just let Mother Nature take the time to heal him up and get him back," Valentine said. "I don't know how to explain it or put it into my thoughts. I wish he was 100 percent. Not playing for a while is going to kill him even more than it's going to kill me."

After seeing how hard Crawford worked during the spring to rebound from a tough first year in Boston, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was disappointed to hear the news, but he knows Crawford will continue to do what he can to return.

"It's tough. I was there in Spring Training at five in the morning, 5:30 in the morning and he was most of the time beating me there, so I know he wants to get back and he wants to be on this team and he wants to play," Saltalamacchia said. "I hate it for him, but it's definitely not going to be from a lack of work that he's not here. He's going to keep working hard 'til he's ready to come back."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.