Crawford Declares Himself Ready To Return For Playoffs
Tony FabrizioST. PETERSBURG - LF Carl Crawford pronounced himself ready to return to the lineup after playing five innings and batting five times in a fall Instructional League game against the Pirates on Monday at Tropicana Field.
Published: September 30, 2008
Published: September 30, 2008
"I think I did enough today," he said. "I mean, I didn't get hits, but I showed that the bat speed is fine, and today, I'll probably do the same thing. So if it's a tough decision after that, then I don't really know what to say. I'm trying to make it as easy as possible for them."
Crawford underwent surgery Aug. 14 for a partial dislocation of his right middle finger tendon. Since sustaining the injury Aug. 9, the longtime Ray and two-time All-Star has made only a couple of recent defensive appearances.
Besides making a nice running catch in left field, Crawford went 0-for-4 at the plate with two pop-ups, a long drive to center and a strikeout. He was hit by a pitch between the shoulder blades his fifth time up, easily stole a base and scored a run.
He said his troublesome hamstrings feel refreshed. That could be encouraging news for the Rays, since hamstring difficulty had cut Crawford's stolen-base production drastically before his injury.
"I think that's the one good thing that's happened out of this whole thing," Crawford said. "I got a chance to rest my legs. I felt good running today. Hopefully, I'll be able to run in the playoffs."
Manager Joe Maddon and hitting coach Steve Henderson watched Crawford's performance. Henderson said that other than needing to get his timing back, Crawford looked fine.
Crawford will play in another Instructional League game today at 10 a.m. at the Trop, preceding the Rays' full-team workout in the early afternoon.
INSURANCE POLICY: A familiar face joined the Rays onstage at Monday's pep rally: Reid Brignac.
The infielder has spent the last week or so playing in the Instructional League after recovering from a broken left wrist that ended his season in early August. Brignac suffered the injury when he was hit by a pitch while playing for Durham, but said he has completely recovered.
Might he end up making an appearance in the playoffs? Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said it's a possibility if one of the Rays' middle infielders is injured in the coming weeks.
"He'd be a guy that we'd activate in that scenario, so we're trying to keep him in shape and trying to get him in as many games as we can in the event that we need to do that," Friedman said.
UNLIKELY HONOREE: A final-week power surge earned Ben Zobrist co-American League Player of the Week honors along with the Rangers' Hank Blalock.
Zobrist hit .455 with four homers and seven RBIs to close out the regular season, making him the fourth Ray to be named Player of the Week and the second in a row after Carlos Pena picked up the previous honor.
"I'm ecstatic. I can't believe it," Zobrist said. "I'm as surprised as everybody else. The last few days I felt like I blacked out there for a little while, and I'm going to try and stay that way for a little while longer. We'll see."
FIRST PITCHES: The Rays will honor longtime employees with the ceremonial first pitch before Thursday's playoff opener, with senior vice president John Higgins set to make the delivery.
Higgins was hired in 1995 as the expansion Devil Rays' first employee and has served as the team's general counsel since then. Other employees who have been with the team since its inaugural season also will be on the field for the celebration.
The first pitch before Friday's Game 2 will be thrown by Paul Azinger, captain of the victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team, Bradenton resident and Rays fan.
QUICK TICKET: Available tickets for a possible ALDS Game 5 at Tropicana Field were snapped up within a few hours of going on sale Monday morning.
As was the case for Games 1 and 2, all the tickets went to those who had registered on the team's Web site and season-ticket holders.