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For Crawford, timing right for surgery

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  August 20, 2012 10:31 PM

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For Carl Crawford, his two seasons with the Red Sox have been marked by poor performance and injury. But at least this one is over with.

The left fielder will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Thursday and could be ready for Opening Day in 2013 if all goes well.

The surgery, which involves transplanting a tendon from a different part of the body to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow, is usually performed on pitchers and requires 9-12 months to return.

But position players can return in as early as seven or eight months. The Red Sox medical staff was able to get pitchers Rich Hill and Daisuke Matsuzaka back ahead of schedule this season and Crawford could benefit from that experience.

Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed Crawford as having a ligament tear in April, will perform the surgery. The Red Sox tried a conservative route, hoping that rest would enable Crawford to avoid surgery. But after 31 games, the decision was made to go ahead with the operation and allow Crawford to get started with rehabilitation.

Crawford approached the Red Sox with the idea over the weekend.

“It became clear over the last few days surgery was going to happen. It was a question of when,” general manager Ben Cherington said on Monday. “We felt like after talking this weekend, and with Carl, that the right thing to do was get it taken care of now.

"Carl had played through the injury and played pretty well. But it wasn’t getting any better. The symptoms were getting worse. We decided to get it taken care of now.”

Crawford hit .282 with 15 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs in 177 at-bats. But he acknowledged playing in pain and felt from the start that surgery would be necessary.

With five years remaining on his $142 million deal, getting Crawford healthy took precedence for the Red Sox over his playing out the final weeks for a team with little hope of making the playoffs.

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