PAWTUCKET, R.I. — It's nice for an athlete to be durable, but those who are can feel some misgivings in the rare instances in which they suffer an injury. Carl Crawford had only been on the disabled list once in his career before this season, so when he tweaked his hamstring, he was more than a little concerned.
The fact that the injury was to his legs gave the Red Sox and their speedy left fielder some pause.
"Yeah, it was a concern because it's the first time something like that happened with my legs," Crawford said in Pawtucket, where he served a rehab assignment Friday and Saturday before tentatively coming off the DL on Monday. "Like you said, it's a big part of my game and I definitely want to make sure it's well taken care of. I was a little worried but now I feel better about it."
Just under a month later, Crawford was back on the field Friday in a minor league game with the PawSox against the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays and the last minor league team he played for.
Crawford went on the DL with a broken finger in 2008 but has never done anything that might affect his trademark wheels.
"It's the first time I had a hamstring injury, so I definitely want to be careful with how I treat that," he said.
The only sign Crawford wasn't at full strength Friday came when PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler gave him the stop sign at third base, rather than try to score Crawford from second base on a single to left field.
The Sox brass in Boston likely quietly applauded Beyeler's decision not to test their offseason acquisition, whom the Red Sox hope to have fully healthy the rest of the season and through the end of his contract in 2017.
Crawford said he wants the same.
"I definitely want to get back in the lineup," he said. "The guys are playing well and I want to contribute as much as I can and be a part of it."
Much was made of Crawford's slow start as a member of the Red Sox, but less attention was given to the fact that he was starting to turn it around right before his injury June 17. He had his batting average up to .243 at the time of the injury, not a great number but still a huge improvement from the .209 average he held as late as May 22.
The timing of the injury was not ideal. Then again, it never is.
"To get injured, period, I don't care what time it is, to get injured any time is disappointing," Crawford said. "I wasn't happy about it and I wish it hadn't happened."
Barring any major setbacks, Crawford was scheduled to play for the PawSox on Saturday, then travel Sunday and join the Red Sox in Baltimore on Monday. The Red Sox are one step closer to having their Opening Day lineup back intact, and Crawford said he is aware the fans are looking forward to it.
"I'm pretty sure they want to see their team at full strength," Crawford said. "I'm eager to get back, so hopefully I can give them their wish."