Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/17/12

It was a debut three months in the making.

After a miserable first season with the Boston Red Sox, Carl Crawford was eager to get this season started. However, offseason wrist surgery and an elbow injury suffered during rehab in April kept the left fielder sidelined for the first 89 games.

On Monday night, at long last, Crawford finally made his 2012 debut and went 1-for-3 with a crucial eighth-inning walk in the Red Sox's 5-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Fenway Park.

"It felt good to be back on the field," Crawford said. "It's been awhile, so it was a real nice feeling. Real nice to play for the win like that, be able to help and do something important, and at the end of the day, we got the win, so I definitely feel good about today."

The Red Sox intend to remain cautious with Crawford. While he said his body feels good, the likelihood of Tommy John surgery is looming over everything. He knows that his next throw could be the one that causes major damage to his left elbow, but he doesn't plan to hold back.

"If a guy's tagging up from third base to home and I feel like I can make the throw, I'm not going to be trying to hit the cutoff man," Crawford said. "I'm going to try to throw him out at home, something like that. Certain situations that call for you to throw hard, I think I can make some throws. I just have to be careful which ones I make."

For now, though, Crawford is intent to make up for lost time. Last season, he batted .255 with 11 homers, 56 RBI, a .694 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and 18 stolen bases, far from the production the Red Sox expected when they signed him to a seven-year, $142 million contract.

"Last year, I think I lost a lot of confidence in myself," Crawford said. "This year, I was able to get that back, not reading so much stuff and watching so much TV where you have so much negative stuff about you being said. You have to kind of put that stuff behind you, go in, have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself. That's pretty much it."

Crawford offered assurances that he hasn't rushed himself back, but rather that he feels as if he's ready to resume playing.

"It's the Red Sox. They're one of the best teams out there," Crawford said. "Not to say anything bad about the other guys, but they want to see everybody out there. I understand that. I'm a big part of the puzzle that was supposed to help them win the championship. So, you know, I want to get back out there and try to help. Looking at it that way, you want to get back out there as fast as you can."

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