ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – When Carl Crawford suggested before the All-Star break that he may require Tommy John surgery to repair the torn UCL in his elbow and that it could occur this season, it created some alarm.

Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington made surgery sound much less likely.

“That’s been discussed as a possibility down the road just because when medical people talk about injuries and players they’re going to run the full gamut of possibilities,” said Cherington.

“We know there are plenty of position players that have performed at a very high level with the UCL injury and we believe Carl can do that. But he’s got to go do it and ultimately he’s got to be confident.

“From what he’s told me and what he’s told our staff, he’s focused on playing and wants to play, so that’s what we’re focused on.”

The club hopes that Crawford will be able to rejoin the team Monday.

“Were taking it day to day … (Monday) is a day we are trying to reach,” Crawford said. “I feel the pressure of everyone to try and get out there. I’ll try to get as many at bats as possible.”

A Massachusetts police officer is under investigation after allegations that he directed a racial slur at Crawford last week.

Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella said the patrolman is on vacation and will be put on desk duty when he returns next week.

Crawford was on a rehab assignment with the Portland Sea Dogs on July 5 when, before a game against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Manchester, N.H., he says a heckling fan called him a “monday,” which can be a derogatory term for blacks.

Fisher Cats President Rick Brenner has apologized to Crawford.

DUSTIN PEDROIA looked good in a recent practice and can be expected to be activated from his thumb injury in about a week. “It’s a good sign, he feels a lot better. He’s going to ramp up his activity over the weekend and hopefully if all goes well he’ll be ready to join us if not on or not too long after his eligible date,” said Cherington.

ANDREW BAILEY threw from 180 feet on Wednesday, played catch Thursday and is expected to gradually ramp up his throwing program to throwing off the mound soon.

“Patience is something I’m learning,” said Bailey.

CHERINGTON SAID he will seek more starting pitching.

“There are some elements to the starting pitching that have gone well, and others that haven’t,” said Cherington. “We have this first-inning bugaboo that we need to figure out, and we’re working on that. We’ve got to work on both fronts. We have to get better with guys we have here, and consider other solutions, too, if those present.

“Every contending team pretty much is looking for starting pitching. That’s typical of any trade deadline. We’ll be in the thick of that, but it makes it difficult.”

Cherington said the team will not worry about busting the collectively bargained tax threshold with a trade, since they are already above it.

“We have some flexibility, and it’s up to us to create more flexibility if we need it,” he said. “The good news is we have a chance to add more talent just through health than most teams do. We’re not in a position of needing a lot of payroll to add talent to the team, we hope.”

Cherington downplayed any lingering concerns about the “toxic clubhouse” flap from a couple weeks ago.

“We played winning baseball for about two months and it wasn’t like every day of those two months were perfect, but we played winning baseball for two months and had a tough week, so we just have to get back to playing winning baseball,” he said. “It’s sort of classic chicken or the egg thing. When things are going well and you’re winning it feels like a much better atmosphere. When you’re not, it doesn’t feel as good of an atmosphere.”

ARIZONA STATE linebacker Brandon Magee has signed a contract with the Red Sox but will play football for the Sun Devils this fall.

Magee is entering his fifth season with the football team and was a three-year baseball letterman as an outfielder. He was drafted in the 23rd round this year.