NEW YORK — Carl Crawford has almost certainly played his final game of the season for the Red Sox.
The team will decide Monday whether Crawford will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow. Given the words general manager Ben Cherington used on Sunday, surgery seems inevitable.
Crawford could have the surgery as early as Wednesday. Dr. James Andrews, who diagnosed his injury in April, would do the surgery.
“This is a real injury he’s playing with and we’ve got to take it seriously,” Cherington said. “He’s been playing through an injury because the team is trying to win games. But with this decision we need to focus on what’s best for Carl.”
Cherington said the team’s medical staff, working with Crawford, would make the final decision.
“Carl has given everything he has,’’ manager Bobby Valentine said. “From everything that I gather, the elbow situation is trending in the wrong way. If that’s the case, I guess a decision will be made.”
Said teammate David Ortiz: “He’s probably going to undergo the surgery, right? That’s not good. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to be ready to go next year.”
As the Globe reported on Saturday, Crawford has been seeking a resolution of the situation. With the Red Sox 7½ games out in the American League wild card with 40 games left, the timing makes sense for him to have surgery now rather than wait until after the season.
For position players, Tommy John surgery usually requires 6-8 months of rehabilitation. By having surgery now, Crawford could be ready for Opening Day in 2013.
“He’s got a UCL injury, it’s pretty clear,’’ Cherington said. “Everyone knows that. He’s been playing on it. This is a long-term contract; he’s here for a long time. We’ve got to be assured we’re doing the right thing for him and ultimately for the team, too. This is not a short-term investment.”
Cherington said the Sox were initially hopeful that Crawford could avoid surgery.
“But we’ve known that surgery was a possibility if the symptoms didn’t go away and he didn’t feel like he could play at a high level for a long time,” Cherington said. “We are where we are today. He’s played well and to his credit he’s gutted through this for the team. I think we’ve had enough time to know and we have enough information to get together [on Monday] and make a decision for the rest of the year.”
Crawford declined comment. But he has said for several weeks that he believes surgery is necessary. Cherington said no further examination of Crawford’s elbow is planned, another sign that surgery is imminent.
Crawford started in left field against the Yankees on Sunday and was 1 for 4. He is hitting .282 with three home runs and 19 RBIs since returning from the disabled list.
Bard to return
Daniel Bard has struggled since he was optioned to Pawtucket June 5. But Cherington said the righthander would be back in the majors soon, perhaps before rosters expand on Sept. 1.
“He’s going to be back in the big leagues,’’ said Cherington. “I don’t know when it’s going to be. But its important to get him in this environment again and around people he knows well. We’re trying to find the right time to do that and to do it in a way that’s fair to everyone.”
Bard has a 7.45 earned run average in 28 appearances for Pawtucket. In 29 innings, he has allowed 26 hits and 29 walks with nine hit batters and nine wild pitches.
Bard was 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA for the Sox before control problems led to his demotion. He has yet to solve those issues but the Red Sox want to give him another chance.
“He’s not the first really good pitcher to go through a bad time and he’s going to come back from it,’’ Cherington said.
With the Red Sox falling out of contention, more waiver trades could happen. Playoff rosters don’t have to be set until Aug. 31.
Players such as Aaron Cook, Mike Aviles, and Scott Podsednik could interest contending teams.
“I don’t think it’s a 12-day question. Every day we consider doing things,” Cherington said. “That’s another marker on the calendar, certainly. But every day we consider doing things. We knew that this stretch of games — Texas, New York, and LA — were important and we’ll see where we are afterward.”
The Sox open a three-game series against the Angels on Tuesday.
Johnson on mend
The Red Sox got some good news regarding Brian Johnson, the 21-year-old lefthander who was struck on the left side of his face by a batted ball during the Futures at Fenway doubleheader on Saturday.
Johnson suffered multiple fractures but not a concussion.
“He’s good,” said Cherington, who was waiting to hear if Johnson had been released from the hospital. “There are no concussion signs, no neurological signs or anything like that. But he got hit pretty good. He’s alert and doing well.”
It’s uncertain at this point whether Johnson will need any surgery to repair the fractures.
With Crawford about to have surgery, Daniel Nava is getting close to returning from the disabled list. He was 0 for 1 with two walks for Pawtucket on Sunday in his first rehabilitation game. Nava has been on the disabled list since July 29 with a wrist injury . . . Cody Ross had the night off a day after striking out four times. With the team off on Monday, Valentine wanted to give him an extended break . . . Ortiz was tearing into balls during batting practice but did not do any running drills. Ortiz, out since July 17 with a strained right Achilles’ tendon, hopes to play during the coming homestand . . . John Lackey threw 45 pitches in the bullpen before the game and looked sharp according to Valentine. The righthander, who had elbow surgery last fall, is unlikely to pitch in a major league game this season. But Cherington said the goal is for Lackey to get into a “competitive environment” in September or October . . . Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 4, snapping a 12-game hitting streak.