09/17/07 10:40 PM ET
Notes: Wheel comes off for Crawford
Leg injuries sideline Rays speedster at least until Friday
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"I tweaked the back of my hamstring Saturday," Crawford said. "I was trying to avoid making it worse [Sunday] and I overcompensated."
Crawford came up limping in the ninth inning of Sunday's game in Seattle, adding the groin problem to the hamstring.
"Right now I can just feel myself overcompensating right now," Crawford said. "I don't want to even walk around."
Crawford is being treated with ice and electronic stimulation.
"He's not going to play in this series and we have Thursday off and we'll re-evaluate on Friday where he's at," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But there's no sense in pushing him right now. He feels it and he's not going to play the next few days."
Crawford went 6-for-11 in the last two games of the Seattle series after serving a two-game suspension for his actions after a Sept. 3 ejection. Crawford is hitting .315 with 11 home runs, 80 RBIs and 50 stolen bases. Not having him in the lineup comes at a critical juncture for the Rays' opposition.
"We're playing the Angels, the Red Sox and the Yankees and we've talked about the integrity of this race," Maddon said. "We've been playing a very high level of baseball for the last two months. You don't want to see that go away. And [Crawford] is a big part of that success. And believe me, we miss him. But it's just one of those things that happen in baseball. You don't cry about it."
The Rays also are seven wins shy of tying the team's single-season record.
"I'm looking big picture," Maddon said. "Of course we want to win these games. We still can, but we're missing some key components. But to me it makes no sense to push someone at this point. I don't get that. I won't do it."
Maddon said he had not yet talked to Andrew Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations, about the prospect of bringing in an extra outfielder from the Rays' farm system, but he says the chances of them doing so are about 50-50. Possible emergency outfielders in the meantime include Joel Guzman and Jorge Velandia.
Maddon echoed caution when asked about Crawford convincing him he can play again Friday.
"I've got to be pretty convinced," Maddon said.
Ridgway's first taste: Jeff Ridgway is in the Major Leagues for the first time in his eight-year professional career after the 27-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Durham.
Ridgway went 2-3 with four saves at Durham while appearing in a team-high 54 games; he struck out 67 in 64 2/3 innings.
"I'm real excited," Ridgway said. "It's one of those things you always hope happens, but you never know."
Ridgway said he worked hard on his outlook while at Durham.
"More or less not trying to work so hard at being perfect," he said. "Every time I went out there I thought I had to be perfect and I didn't. I just had to be myself. Throw the baseball and whatever happened, happened. You can't control if they hit the ball, you can just control where you throw it."
Earlier in the season, Ridgway found himself concentrating more on pitching his way to the Major Leagues rather than working on the task at hand.
"I finally started to look at the whole picture and if I had kept pitching that way I probably would have been hurt or never made it," Ridgway said. "Finally, I cleared my mind and just started trying to do my job every time out there."
Ridgway believes the strength of his pitching is being aggressive.
"It doesn't matter who's in the box," Ridgway said. "I just want to throw strikes and be aggressive. See if they can hit what I have to offer."
Not so fast ... J.P. Howell also was recalled by the Rays from Durham and, while he'll likely see some work in relief, the left-hander does not feel like the bullpen is in his future.
"I still think I can develop as a starting pitcher," Howell said. "I still think I'm good enough. I think I've struggled because I put myself in certain situations. ... I'm trying to find my best stuff and I think I'm on a good path right now."
There are a million stories about good Triple-A pitchers not being able to adjust to the Major Leagues. Howell believes he can make the transition.
"If I can get my velocity back, that's a huge thing," Howell said. "I'm throwing a lot harder more consistently. ... I've been touching 90, 91, and mainly it's the location of my fastball. That's key, that fastball command. And I never thought I understood that fully until now."
Tentatively, Howell is scheduled to make one start, which will come on the final day of the season at Toronto.
Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Angels on Tuesday night in a 10:05 contest at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Jason Hammel will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander John Lackey.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.