The likelihood of Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford coming back from offseason wrist surgery and starting the season on time is diminishing with every passing day. Boston’s skipper, Bobby Valentine, told the Boston Herald that he “wouldn’t be surprised if Carl’s a few weeks into the season before he’s really ready to go, I wouldn’t be surprised, nor disappointed, if that’s what nature dictates as the healing process”. That quote is rather telling, as Valentine is all but ruling Crawford out for “at least a few weeks”. More disconcerting for Red Sox Nation is the fact that the high-priced outfielder is still unable to swing a bat. With Spring Training right around the corner, that’s usually not a good sign.
Crawford, who signed a 7 year, $142 million contract after the 2010 season, had surgery in mid-January in which he had cartilage removed from his wrist. To say that his first season in Boston was disappointing is an understatement. He appeared in 130 games, during which he had 129 hits, 11 home runs and 56 RBI, all the while hitting for an average of .255 and an OPS of .694. In those 130 games, Crawford also struck out 104 times.
Even if he was not going to be a catalyst at the plate to start the season, Boston is definitely going to miss his speed in the outfield. New manager Bobby Valentine is going to have some shuffling to do, likely starting an outfield of Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Cody Ross (RF) and Ryan Sweeney (LF). Darnell McDonald can also play in spots, when necessary.
By no means do the Red Sox want to rush Crawford back from a “minor surgery” and risk further damage to the wrist later on down the line. At the same time, they can’t afford to start the season in the same manner they did in 2011, as it could very well cost them a playoff berth once again.