NEW YORK -- When Carl Crawford belted a single up the middle in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday night against the Yankees, it very well might have been his final at-bat of an already injury-marred 2012.
Before the game, the Red Sox confirmed that they would hold a summit of sorts during Monday's off-day to determine whether left fielder Crawford should continue to play through his left elbow injury or undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The latter scenario appeared far more likely.
"Again, I don't know about the decision," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "We're going to circle up tomorrow and [talk about] what that whole thing is going to be. Carl's given it everything he has. From everything I gather, the elbow situation is kind of trending in the wrong way. If that's the case, I guess a decision will be made one way or another."
The meeting will likely consist of Valentine, general manager Ben Cherington, Crawford and members of the team's medical staff.
For the past two days in New York, as rumors of swirled about his health, Crawford has been unavailable to the media.
"Our medical staff will work with Carl, our medical staff will make a recommendation and we'll make a decision," Cherington said. "Rarely a medical decision is made unilaterally. The player needs to be involved, and that's what will happen in this case.
"We will talk to him again and sort of look at all the available information again and just try to work with him, trying to figure out the right path for him and for us. I don't expect that he'd get another opinion; all the voices have been heard at this point."
Crawford, who made his season debut for the Red Sox on July 16, has been playing through a sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament.
The Red Sox trail the Yankees by 13 1/2 games in the American League East and are eight back in the AL Wild Card standings.
"I think we've got to focus mostly on what Carl needs, what's right for him," said Cherington. "This is a real injury he's playing with, so we got to take it seriously. I think he's certainly been playing and playing through an injury in large part because the team is trying to win games and trying to stay in this thing. But when it comes to the decision, we've got to focus mostly on what's best for Carl."
At times, there has appeared to be a disconnect in this situation between Crawford and the team. Even before Crawford was activated, he suggested his injury would ultimately need surgery. The Red Sox said they weren't sure.
"I think we were hopeful and have been hopeful that we could avoid it," Cherington said. "I think part of the reason to let him play -- and he wanted to give it a shot to play -- was just to see if there are times when a player can get out there [when], even with an injury, for whatever reason, it doesn't affect them and they can play on it for a long time.
"We're always hopeful to avoid surgery -- that's always the first choice. So I think when we talked about it in the past, our hope was that we can treat it conservatively. 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 period of time."
Crawford's recovery from Tommy John surgery could be seven to nine months, Cherington said earlier this weekend. In other words, if he was to have any chance at being ready for the start of the 2013 season, Crawford would have to undergo surgery as soon as possible.
An ESPN report stated that Crawford will undergo surgery on Tuesday. However, the Red Sox maintained their stance that nothing has been scheduled yet.
Crawford is signed with the Red Sox through the 2017 season, giving the Red Sox every reason to protect their investment.
"He's got a UCL injury, and it's pretty clear -- everyone knows that and he's been playing on it," Cherington said. "This is a long-term contract -- he's here for a long time -- so we've got to be sure that we're doing the right thing for him and ultimately for the team, too. This is not a short-term investment."
While it is perfectly understandable that the Red Sox want Crawford to be as healthy as possible for next season, the team will miss his production if he has surgery.
Crawford is hitting .282 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 31 games. He leads the Majors in August with 10 doubles and 13 extra-base hits.
"If you're injured, you're injured," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "Nobody is getting Tommy John just because it's fun. Tommy John is a tough process. If he needs one, he really needs one. If I were him, I would do exactly what he's doing, take care of it and life continues."