NEW YORK – Carl Crawford appears to be headed for season-ending surgery on his left elbow.

The Boston Red Sox said Sunday they planned to meet and decide Monday whether the left fielder will have Tommy John surgery. Citing an anonymous source, ESPN reported hours later that Crawford is expected to have the operation Tuesday.

Crawford has been playing with pain since coming off the disabled list last month. He has said he’s been told he will need Tommy John surgery at some point to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing arm.

Crawford was in the starting lineup Sunday night against the New York Yankees. The Red Sox are off Monday.

“We’ll take that time to talk with Carl and the doctors and kind of get to the bottom of this entire situation,” Manager Bobby Valentine said before the game.

Asked if the discussion would be about whether Crawford needs surgery at all or simply when he should have it, General Manager Ben Cherington said: “A little of both.”

If he has the ligament-replacement surgery, it’s estimated Crawford could return six to nine months later. The Red Sox are 59-63, leaving them 7½ games out in the AL wild-card race.

“We’ll focus the decision more on what’s best for Carl,” Cherington said. “What gives him the best chance to be the player that we know he can be for the longest period of time.

“We’ve known surgery is a possibility if the symptoms didn’t go away. These conversations have been going on for months now. We know what the issue is.”

Crawford was a major disappointment last season, his first with Boston after signing a $142 million, seven-year contract. He missed the first 89 games of this season while recovering from left wrist surgery, and is batting .282 with three homers and 19 RBI in 31 games.

JOHN LACKEY, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, threw 45 pitches in the bullpen. “I was very impressed with what I saw,” said Valentine, who did not rule out the possibility of Lackey pitching in the majors this season. Cherington said he fully expects Lackey will pitch in a “competitive environment” before the season ends, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a big league game.

MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER Brian Johnson was released from the hospital, and Cherington said the left-hander was doing well after he was hit in the face with a line drive Saturday during the Future Games at Fenway Park. Johnson, a first-round draft pick in June, sustained multiple orbital bone fractures on the left side of his face, but there were no signs of a concussion.