Barely three days into his 2012 season, Carl Crawford seemed besieged on all fronts by distractions when he arrived Fenway Park for Wednesday night's game against the Chicago White Sox.
On the one hand, Crawford had to deal with the distraction of having his name surface in trade rumors involving the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins. Then, on the other, he was sought by reporters for his reaction to the news that an internal investigation by Leominster town officials had found one of its police officers had directed a racially insensitive remark at him July 5 in Manchester, N.H., while he was on a rehab assignment with the Portland Sea Dogs.
"I hadn't really heard too much about it, but there's nothing really to say about it,'' Crawford said of the trade rumors that surfaced Wednesday. "You just have to get ready to play every day and those kinds of things come up and you just shrug it off.''
Crawford, who is in the second year of a seven-year, $142 million contract which will pay him nearly $21 million this season, was asked if he was surprised to hear his name come up the trade rumors.
"Yeah, I was surprised,'' he said. "Still surprised right now, but there's nothing I've got to say right now.''
Asked if he was still happy to be playing in Boston, Crawford replied, "Yeah, I like playing here so far, especially when you're doing well. When you're doing well it's the best place to play. But nothing really surprises me anymore.''
Since being activated Monday from the disabled list after he started off the season rehabbing from offseason wrist surgery then spent the remainder of the first half beset by a left elbow strain and, later, a groin issue, Crawford has gone 4 for 7 with 4 runs and 3 stolen bases in his first two games with the Sox this season.
In Tuesday night's 7-5 loss to the White Sox at Fenway Park, Crawford went 3 for 4 with 3 stolen bases, marking his first three-steal game since July 27, 2010, vs. Detroit. He became the first active Sox left fielder to record three hits and three stolen bases in a game since Roy Johnson did so May 21, 1934, at the Chicago White Sox.
"I'm not surprised at anything,'' said Sox manager Bobby Valentine, when asked for his reaction to the Crawford trade rumors. "Stuff is made up and blown up and so I'm never surprised.''
Valentine seemed to downplay any potential distraction it would cause Crawford.
"Sure, sure, him and the next guy who's name is going to come up tomorrow and the next day,'' the manager said. ''This is the world that we live in and, regretfully, you've got to survive in it. I think Carl's tough. He'll be fine."
If that wasn't enough of a potential distraction for Crawford, then there was the news Wednesday that Leominster town officials had placed John A. Perrault, a five-year veteran patrol officer, on paid administrative leave pending a public disciplinary hearing next week.
Perrault was found guilty for his involvement in a racially-charged incident July 5 in Manchester, N.H., in which he called Crawford a "Monday,'' which is derogatory term that is as offensive to African-Americans as the N-word, as Crawford was signing autographs before a minor league contest against the Manchester Fisher Cats.
"I really don't want to comment on that,'' said Crawford. "I'm just trying to put that stuff behind me and move forward.''
Crawford had received an apology from Perrault and Leominster town officials as well as the Fisher Cats organization, at whose park the incident occurred.
"They told me he was a police officer,'' Crawford said. "It surprised me that he was a police officer. It's disappointing and all that kind of stuff. But, like I said, I want to put that stuff behind me and not worry about that anymore.''
Asked if he was shocked to discover that kind of racially-motivated behavior still existed in 2012, Crawford replied, "You would think that we, as a nation, had grown past that kind of stuff. It's one of those things where, hopefully, it's the last time that happens.''