HOUSTON — Carl Crawford gets to work so early in the morning that the rush-hour traffic here had barely started.
Crawford was in the gym at Houston Christian High before 7:30 a.m. today, working with trainer Lee Fiocchi on his speed and agility. Then came a session in the gym that hurt just to watch as Crawford did crunches with a 100-pound dumbbell on his chest and used lengths of heavy chain to strengthen his shoulders.
Once he was finished, Crawford headed home with a package of prepared meals delivered by a nutritionist. "I gave everything I had today," he said before pulling on a Red Sox sweatshirt to ward off the wintry weather
Astros outfielder Michael Bourn, Crawford's former Little League teammate, showed up at a much more reasonable hour for his workout. Crawford, he said, doesn't look at his landmark $142 million contract with the Sox as an accomplishment.
"He is the most competitive person I know," Bourn said. "He's killing himself because he wants to be great. The money is there, now he wants to leave a mark on the game. I think last year was just scratching the surface of what he can do in this game."
Fiocchi told me that Crawford has been in the gym four days a week since Dec. 1 without a break. No trips to the Caribbean, Vegas or the Super Bowl. Just sweat.
"And he's single," Fiocchi said. "What does that tell you? Not everybody has this level of commitment. He's the guy I use as an example to others."
There's a little taste of what Crawford is like. I'll be here for a few days working on a story that'll appear in the Globe and on Boston.com later this month. We'll have a ton of photos and some video, too.
Suffice it to say, the new left fielder is not taking anything for granted.