ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford's right knee is much better than the last time the Rays and Red Sox met.
That series began June 3 and the Rays left fielder met the team in Boston after spending the day in Birmingham, Ala., having his knee checked out by team medical director Dr. James Andrews.
Since then Tampa Bay played series in Texas and Anaheim, allowing Crawford to play on natural surfaces before returning home to serve a four-game suspension, limiting him to five games on the artificial surface at Tropicana Field. The Rays then went to Florida and Pittsburgh for six games on natural surfaces before returning to the Trop on Monday night to begin a seven-game homestand against the Red Sox and Royals.
The knee is "better than it was before, but it's not 100 percent," said Crawford, who noted that the combination of treatment with an anti-inflammatory and not playing on the artificial surface helped his recovery. "I can get away with it. I know when not to push myself, too. So it's just a matter of me being careful how I do things when I'm out there on defense."
In talking about his knee problem and prevention of irritating it in the future, the prospect was broached of occasionally using Crawford at designated hitter during home series. Crawford was asked if the current homestand might see him used as the team's DH for a game or two.
"It'd be nice to have a game or two at DH, but I know it's really hard to get that DH when you've got like three DHs sitting on the bench," Crawford said. "It makes it tough on [Rays manager] Joe [Maddon]. I understand that, so I try to wait and get me in there any way he can. I don't like to really put too much pressure on him. He already has a lot of decisions he has to make."
Maddon didn't dismiss the possibility of Crawford playing some DH during the current homestand.
"We'll see," Maddon said. "It's just a seven-game gig. We have a game off on Thursday. Just look at it as we go along. I've got to stay with him communication-wise to see how he's doing. He did pretty well up there and again, we'll see how he reacts to this surface."
Like Crawford, Maddon pointed to the excess of DH candidates on the Rays' roster, namely Cliff Floyd, Jonny Gomes and Eric Hinske.
"Again, if his knee requires us to do something like that, we would make an adjustment," Maddon said.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.