MANCHESTER, N.H. — Before many of the 18 pitches he saw in his third rehab start for Double-A Portland on Thursday night, Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford was forced to tune out a heckler behind home plate.
The fan — who Crawford claimed uttered “a racial slur” — routinely made his feelings known with regard to the left fielder’s $142 million contract and whether he was earning it.
He was the only one I had a problem with. People in Boston don’t even do that. So I don’t know what that was about. It’s not that bad in Boston, like that.
— Rehabbing Red Sox LF Carl Crawford
The heckler’s message: overrated, overpaid.
Crawford responded Thursday night in the fifth inning of Portland’s 11-3 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by lacing a triple to right-center field at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. He reached third base without drawing a throw.
After completing his night in the seventh inning, Crawford was asked about the fan and lingering animosity that may exist after his disappointing 2011 season, his first in Boston.
“Talking about that guy, he actually called me a racial slur to begin the game,” said Crawford, who hit .255 with a .289 on-base percentage last season. “He was the only one I had a problem with. People in Boston don’t even do that. So I don’t know what that was about. It’s not that bad in Boston, like that.”
Crawford seemingly did hear some other ribbing. While walking back to his position after New Hampshire’s Brad Glenn hit a fifth-inning home run to left field, Crawford appeared to stop, turn and wave his glove in a dissatisfied manner toward fans beyond the wall.
Crawford, however, was composed while offering his perspective to reporters in the stadium’s media room. He spoke fondly of the fans in New Hampshire, many of whom cheer for the Sea Dogs despite the Fisher Cats being the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I can understand why people can be upset about me signing a contract and me having the kind of year I had,” Crawford said. “I understand, you know? They love their team. They want you to produce when you sign a contract like that. I can’t be mad at them. All I can do is get ready to play this year and try to produce.”
Crawford, who is rehabbing a sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, continued to test the arm during six-plus innings of work as Portland’s leadoff hitter and left fielder on Thursday night.
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He went 1 for 4 with the fifth-inning triple. Hitless through two at-bats, he pulled a 2-and-1 offering and turned the corner at second base before the ball was retrieved.
“That swing felt pretty good. I ran the bases pretty good. Yeah, that felt fine,” said Crawford, who has yet to play with the Red Sox this season.
Crawford tested his arm in the home half of the fifth. He didn’t show any ill effects throwing to the left side of the infield after cleanly fielding a 380-foot gap double.
“It’s all right,” he said of his arm. “It wasn’t a big deal.”
Crawford could remain with Portland as he continues his rehab assignment. He said he planned to communicate with Red Sox officials on Friday.
Red Sox’ Crawford target of racial slur in rehab
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