BOSTON – Carl Crawford got a kick out of the “breaking news” Saturday over his groin “injury.”

The Red Sox initially said Crawford suffered a mild groin muscle strain. Crawford said he simply felt some tightness when he was legging out a triple when he played for the Portland Sea Dogs last week.

“I do that every year,” Crawford said. “It’s like spring training for me. I always get tight in that area.

“But I know how things are around here, once you say one little thing, it gets much bigger than what it really is.”

Crawford worked out at Fenway Park on Sunday, including a sprint around the bases.

“I feel real good,” he said.

Crawford, who has been out with both wrist and elbow injuries, said he expects to resume his rehab assignment Thursday, joining Pawtucket after the Triple-A All-Star break.

Crawford, 30, began his rehab assignment in late June with five games with the rookie Gulf Coast League team in Florida. He played three games with the Sea Dogs, July 3-5, going 4 for 10 with two walks.

“I was making progress in the games I was playing,” he said. “I’m just ready to go out on the field.”

Crawford said he likely will eventually need surgery on his left elbow, but not during the season.

“I think at this point if I can play, they probably want me out on the field,” he said. “I feel like I can help the team out.”

JACOBY ELLSBURY, the other rehabbing Red Sox outfielder, may be closer to joining the Red Sox, possibly after the All-Star break.

“He’s probably getting pretty close,” Boston Manager Bobby Valentine said.

Ellsbury, out since April 13 with a separated shoulder, played his second straight game for Pawtucket, going 1 for 4.

CLAY BUCHHOLZ pitched for Pawtucket on Sunday. On a tight pitch count, Buchholz pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and two walks, striking out three (43 pitches/20 strikes).

“Everything was good. Just a little rusty at first,” said Buchholz, who went on the disabled list June 24 with an illness.

No more rehab starts are scheduled. Valentine said Buchholz will likely pitch Saturday at Tampa Bay.

WILL MIDDLEBROOKS was not put on the disabled list, although he has not played since straining a hamstring muscle on July 1.

He could probably play now, but Valentine was being cautious.

“He looked really good (Sunday afternoon) out there running,” Valentine said. “but with one game (until the All-Star break), I’m leaning toward not having him play.”

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: ClearTheBases

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