Carl Crawford played in a grand total of two games for the Red Sox last season before Terry Francona dropped him down to seventh in the lineup. Their relationship never really recovered.
He got to seven games this season under Bobby Valentine before he was dropped. Crawford, who had been hitting second, will hit seventh against the Rangers tonight on the heels of going 0 for 8 in his last two games.
He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and 7 of 26 (.269) since coming off the disabled list.
If Crawford is upset this time, he kept it to himself.
“No thoughts,” Crawford said. “It’s time to go play at 7 o’clock. [Valentine] talked to me about it. I am where I’m at and at 7 o’clock that’s where I’m going to go play. That’s pretty much it.”
Crawford said the travails of last season are helping him now.
“I understand now. Last year was more like trying to prove to the manager and all that kind of stuff. Just fighting against myself. This year I kind of understand that, OK, I might be at the bottom sometimes; I might be at the top. I’m cool with it,” he said. “I’ve come to grips that might happen. This year I just know to stay within myself and still just playing my game.”
Valentine said the move was made because the Rangers are starting a lefty tonight in Martin Perez.
“Put [Crawford] in a place he was comfortable in last year and he has all of about 15 at-bats against lefthanders this whole year,” the manager said. “I talked to Carl about it actually. It seemed to make sense to him, made sense to me. Rather than rush it, just let it come to us.”
Crawford is 4 of 14 against lefties in the majors this season, which is better than he has been against righties. But he is a significantly better hitter against righthanders in his career.
Crawford hit second nearly every game for the Rays from 2009-10. Getting shifted around last season clearly bothered him. He felt Francona lost faith in him too quickly while other slumping players got a pass.
“We’ve talked about it,” Valentine said. “He doesn’t seem as sensitive talking to me about it. As a matter of fact, we had a plan in spring training where he was possibly going to hit some first. There was all this talk about him never wanting to hit first and that didn’t seem to be the case at all. It’s tough experimenting in July, but we’ll do it.”
Established players tend to like hitting in the same spot in the order.
“We all like comfort. A lot times the thing that gives you comfort is practice and repetition and we haven’t had a chance for a lot of practice and repetition. But I think he’s going to do fine,” Valentine said. “He seemed great about everything we’re talked about so far.”