FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford, an early arrival so that the club can monitor his surgically repaired left wrist, said his goal is to be in the Opening Day lineup and said that in his mind, “the odds are good” that he will be able to do so.
“I definitely don’t want to miss any games. That’s my goal right now.”‘ said Crawford, who played catch here Monday, much to the surprise, he said, of manager Bobby Valentine, whom he said wasn’t aware that he was throwing already.
Crawford, who had a debridement of the triangular cibrocartilage complex (TFCC) of his left wrist, which is on the pinky finger side of the wrist and impacts the ability to rotate the wrist, said he has been cleared to do everything but hit, adding that he hoped that would come soon. He is no longer wearing a brace on the wrist.
The wrist bothered him last season, he said, to the point that he had injections several times during the season.
“(But) I think I was out of whack so many ways last year that the wrist was minor,” he said.
Crawford was asked about comments made by majority owner John W. Henry last season that he was opposed to signing him to a seven-year, $142 million deal last winter.
“I can’t do nothing about what he said, just go out and play,” Crawford said. “It was unfortunate that he said that. I wasn’t happy about it, and a little surprised. It’s unfortunate he feels that way.”
Crawford chatted face-to-face with new manager Bobby Valentine for the first time since Valentine became manager, and dismissed the suggestion that he had any lingering resentment over any on-the-air criticism Valentine may have offered while working for ESPN.
“I don’t have feelings about that,” Crawford said. “His job was to do stuff like that on TV. I kind of understand how that goes. I’m playing for him now as a manager, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel that way. Me and Bobby have no hard feelings. We share a common goal trying to help the Red Sox win.”
Asked about clubhouse issues last year, Crawford wryly replied, “I guess you’re talking about the chicken and beer, right?”
He said he was unaware of the practice during games because he was on the field. “When I heard the stories I couldn’t believe you guys (media) knew about it. That was a surprise. It’s one of those things that are unfortunate it had to happen but you try to move on.”
Crawford, an All-Star in Tampa Bay, had the worst season of his career in his first year in Boston, batting .255 with 65 runs scored and 18 stolen bases, all career lows. Crawford’s on-base percentage of .289 was the lowest of any Red Sox left-fielder ever (minimum 300 at-bats) in a season. For Sox outfielders with 500 or more at-bats, Tony Armas is the only outfielder with a lower on-base percentage (.254), and that came in a season, 1983, in which Armas hit 36 home runs and drove in 107 runs.
Crawford also walked just 23 times (while striking out 104 times). The only Sox outfielder with fewer walks (and 500 or more at-bats) was Shano Collins, who had 18. In 1921.
“Last year was one of the toughest things I ever had to go through — for whatever reason it was,” he said. “I struggled. I had a lot of time to think about it, make corrections and think things will be better.”
Crawford acknowledged that he needs to alter his mechanics at the plate.
“My batting stance was too wide, too open,” he said. “I have to shorten up a little bit. I was late all the time on the ball.”
Those are precisely the observations made last season by hitting coach Dave Magadan, but for whatever reason Crawford was unable to make the adjustments. He said he is prepared to do so now.
Crawford had a chance to rescue the Red Sox from playoff elimination in the last game of the season, but was unable to make a sliding catch of Robert Andino’s hit that KO’d the Sox in Baltimore. Asked how often he had reflected on that play, he said: “As soon as it happened, I let it go.
“You can’t (see) it over and over, like ‘Lin-sanity,'” he said. “I almost had to turn the TV off. It was definitely a sore spot. I had a bad cringe in my body every time I saw it.”
Kevin Youkilis is pulling for Crawford to bounce back.
“The way we look at it is if every guy can do their job on this team and every day come out mentally, physically and get themselves in the best shape possible, and best mental approach to the game of baseball possible, then this is a great team,” he said. “We’re not just assembled with a bunch of guys thrown together. These are great players who might have played in other places and played really well.
“Individually we all have to do our job and help out.”
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.
Follow Gordon Edes on Twitter: @GordonEdes
Crawford: Playing in Red Sox opener possible
ESPN.com – MLB
Latest MLB news from ESPN.com