NEW YORK — Carl Crawford has almost certainly played his final game of the season for the Red Sox.
The team will decide on Monday whether Crawford will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Given the words general manager Ben Cherington used on Sunday, surgery seems inevitable.
Crawford could have the surgery as early as Wednesday. Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed his injury in April, would do the surgery.
“This is a real injury he's playing with and we've got to take it seriously," Cherington said. "He's been playing through an injury because the team is trying to win games. But with this decision we need to focus on what's best for Carl.”
Cherington said that the team's medical staff, working with Crawford, would make the final decision.
“Carl has given everything he has. From everything that I gather, the elbow situation is trending in the wrong way,” manager Bobby Valentine said. “If that’s the case, I guess a decision will be made.”
Said teammate David Ortiz: “He's probably going to undergo the surgery, right? That's not good. But you've got to do what you've got to do to be ready to go next year.”
As the Globe first reported on Saturday, Crawford decided he wanted the surgery now and was seeking a resolution of the situation. With the Red Sox 7.5 games out in the American League wild card with 40 games left, the timing makes sense for him to have surgery now rather than wait until after the season in October.
For position players, Tommy John surgery usually requires 6-8 months of rehabilitation. By having surgery now, Crawford could be ready for Opening Day in 2013.
"He's got a UCL injury, it's pretty clear. Everyone knows that. He's been playing on it," Cherington said. "This is a long-term contract; he's here for a long time. We've got to be assured we're doing the right thing for him and ultimately for the team, too. This is not a short-term investment."
Cherington said the Sox were initially hopeful that Crawford could avoid surgery.
"But we've known that surgery was a possibility if the symptoms didn't go away and he didn't feel like he could play at a high level of play for a long time," Cherington said. "We are where we are today. He's played well and to his credit he's gutted through this for the team. I think we've had enough time to know and we have enough information to get together [on Monday] and make a decision for the rest of the year."
Crawford declined comment. But he has said for several weeks that he believes surgery is necessary. Cherington said no further examination of Crawford's elbow is planned, another sign that surgery is imminent.
Crawford started in left field against the Yankees on Sunday and was 1 for 4. He is hitting .282 with three home runs and 19 RBIs since returning from the disabled list.