09/27/08 7:11 PM ET
Crawford takes batting practice
Rays left fielder hopeful he will be on postseason roster
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The Rays' everyday left fielder, who is trying to come back from a hand injury in time for the first round of the playoffs, hit for approximately 10 minutes and looked like he was well on his way to being on the active roster for Tampa Bay's first playoff game Thursday.
"It felt good," Crawford said. "I said all along my hand's been feeling good, just a matter of when I could get back out there and swing again. No pain at all. I turned on a few balls good. I'm just trying to get my stroke down now."
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. He was hitting .273 with 10 triples, eight home runs and 57 RBIs at the time of his injury. He had stolen 25 bases in 32 attempts.
The 27-year-old two-time All-Star is a career .293 hitter, with 84 triples, 70 homers and 302 stolen bases in 6 1/2 seasons.
"He won the home run derby contest today," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He looked good, there was no hesitation, no flinching. I didn't see him favoring it; it looked absolutely normal."
Maddon would not say if Crawford will be on his roster for the first round of the playoffs, noting Crawford will take batting practice again Sunday and Maddon wants to see how the hand feels a day after taking his first batting practice.
"Measure the soreness and that kind of stuff," Maddon said. "As of right now, he's feeling pretty good and pretty confident. Medically, he's got the clearance. He just looks right. One day at a time, we'll see what he looks like. I'm curious to see what he looks like tomorrow.
"This is one of those things we did not expect. Everything I had been told up to this point indicated that he would not be ready. So this would be a pleasant surprise."
Crawford sounded confident about his return.
"I've been swinging for a while," Crawford said. "I knew it wasn't going to hurt. They were more worried than me. I know how my hand feels, and it's fine.
"I just have to get my swing back, I'm a little rusty. That's why I looked a little funny at first. The more swings I take, the more I hopefully get back in the groove."
Crawford's injury was located at the base of the middle finger at the joint connecting the finger to the hand. The tendon used to straighten the finger came out of its groove, causing the finger to lock into position when he bent it downward. He had surgery on Aug. 14 to repair the problem.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.