ST. PETERSBURG -- If they Rays are going to notch a trip to the postseason, they are going to have to do it without Carl Crawford.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said on Thursday that he doesn't plan on having the left fielder back until after the regular season.
"I don't see him swinging the bat, even the week after [the regular season ends]," Maddon said. "So if he were able to participate, it would be primarily running and defense. That's what I'm hearing right now."
Crawford seemed to be on the same page, as the former American League All-Star said he was still "a ways away" from swinging a bat, since his right finger has yet to fully heal.
Crawford underwent finger surgery on Aug. 14 to fix a subluxation of his right middle finger tendon, which is a joint connecting the finger to the hand. The tendon used to straighten the finger came out of its groove, which caused the finger to lock into position when he bent it downward.
The injury occurred when Crawford checked his swing on a 3-1 pitch from J.J. Putz in the 10th inning of the Rays' Aug. 9 contest in Seattle, and in the speedy outfielder's place, the Rays have used a platoon of Eric Hinske, Ben Zobrist and Justin Ruggiano.
For now, Crawford is running and doing other baseball-related activities, and said when the time comes -- around the eight-week mark -- he will start taking dry swings and progress from there.
Crawford's rehab will likely progress similar to that of Evan Longoria -- who was previously sidelined with a right wrist fracture -- in that he will first swing with a Wiffle bat or a stick before an actual bat.
For the Rays, getting their speedy left fielder back on defense would be a big boost, as Crawford's legs have contributed to numerous web gems already this season. Additionally, his 25 stolen bases are second most on the team and could prove extremely valuable in the club's first pennant race.
"If they do make it to the World Series or the second round [of the playoffs], I have a chance to come back," Crawford said. "You know, we've never played in October."
And with any luck, both the Rays and Crawford will do just that.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.