However, Boston general manager Ben Cherington is confident that Crawford will be the team's left fielder for "the bulk of the season" and that the injury won't linger.
"It was a basic debridement of some cartilage in his left wrist," said Cherington. "[It's a] relatively routine procedure. We expect Carl to be recovered and hitting at some point during Spring Training. We're not going to put an exact timeline on it. We expect him to be hitting at some point during Spring Training and then expect him to be in position to return to play at some point very early in the season."
How was the injury discovered?
"When he started increasing his hitting activity earlier this offseason -- really right around New Year's -- he experienced soreness in his left wrist, and it was consistent but a little bit more concerning to Carl," Cherington said. "[It was] consistent with the soreness he's had periodically over the last several years, but more concerning to Carl given the time of the year he was feeling it. It's in the outside of his left wrist, the [triangular fibrocartilage complex] area of his left wrist, which is the cartilage and ligament section of the outside of the left wrist."
The procedure was performed in Arizona by Dr. Donald Sheridan.
"[It is] fairly common for hitters to have periodic symptoms in that area," Cherington said. "He experienced some increased soreness, and we arranged for a consultation with Dr. Sheridan in Arizona last week. Dr. Sheridan has a history with Carl. Has treated him in the past, looked at him in the past. Based on his symptoms and based on the new MRI that was performed, the recommendation was to go ahead and clean the area out and help Carl get ready for the season.
"As I said, we're not going to put a timeline on his recovery, but we're optimistic that Carl will be progressing in baseball activities as we get into Spring Training -- and you know, again, back in position to be active and our everyday left fielder in our lineup for the bulk of the regular season."
Crawford is trying to recover from a tough first season in Boston, when he hit .255 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs.
"Well, we think this time of the year [for surgery] is a lot better than the end of Spring Training," Cherington said. "He's got a chance to do a lot of work and recover and be active for us for the majority of the season. Carl's a really tough guy. This is something that's bothered him periodically in the past, including at the end of the 2011 season.
"We felt like the best course of action was to let him get into his offseason and proceed with the normal offseason, because it was not limiting him in any significant way at the end of the season. That said, he ramped up his hitting activity recently and experienced increased soreness. We feel like, based on the information we have, this is an opportunity for Carl to feel better and be healthier when he's recovered from this procedure, which we're confident he will recover from it and go into the 2012 season with a fresh mind and confident that his wrist is feeling good, and [we think] that he's in a position to be Carl Crawford."
The Red Sox have Darnell McDonald and Mike Aviles as candidates to fill in for Crawford while he is out. Ryan Sweeney will likely be the team's primary right fielder, while Jacoby Ellsbury will roam center field.
"We expect Carl to be back and recovered from this hopefully early in the season," said Cherington. "We don't think it changes much with regards to the outfield mix. We'll certainly keep our eyes open. If there are ways to protect ourselves and increase depth, we'll look for that between now and Spring Training. But right now, we feel like we have some options, even if Carl's not quite ready for Opening Day."