The plan had been for Carl Crawford to make his long-awaited return next weekend during the Red Sox' first series after the All-Star break.

Now, it's going to take a bit longer.

Crawford was scheduled to play yesterday at Triple-A Pawtucket. Instead, his minor league rehab assignment was interrupted by what the Red Sox called a "mild groin strain" sustained when he rounded third base on a triple Thursday for Double-A Portland.

And although manager Bobby Valentine downplayed the setback, Crawford won't play for at least five days, allowing the clock to be restarted on a minor league rehab assignment that can last for a maximum of only 20 days and was slated to expire Thursday.

"He just felt a little twinge there," Valentine said. "It's a little preventative thing to make sure it doesn't get worse."

Valentine indicated Crawford will resume his usual baseball activities within a few days. It's possible the left fielder may be ready to be reinstated from the disabled list during a seven-game homestand that begins July 16.

Of greater concern, however, is Crawford's elbow. On Friday, he admitted the strained ligament in his left elbow still isn't 100 percent, even after he received a platelet-rich plasma injection two months ago.

"There are still issues," Crawford said. "I've been making some throws in the minor leagues, good enough to hit the cutoff man, stuff like that. I don't know if I'll be hosing anybody out at home or anything like that. I'm at a point where I can get by with it, so I'm going to try to do that."