Crawford looks to put last season behind him

561960.jpg

Crawford looks to put last season behind him

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right from the start, Carl Crawford's initial season with the Red Sox took a wrong turn.

Crawford found himself dropped in the batting order after just two games and never seemed to recover, posting career lows in batting average, stolen bases and other offensive categories.

Now beginning his second year, Crawford can't wait to put 2011 behind him.

"Last year was probably one of the toughest things I ever had to go through,'' said Crawford. "For whatever reason it was, I struggled. It was really hard to deal with. I've had a lot of time to think about it and make corrections and I think things will be better.

"The main thing is to put last season behind and start fresh. That was bad. Everyone saw what happened. It was well documented. The main thing is to let that go and try to start over and do what I normally did the past nine years.''

Compounding matters for Crawford is that he reports to camp at less than 100 percent, having undergone surgery to repair a tendon in his left wrist last month.

It was something that he dealt with periodically in 2011, but he refused to cite that as the main reason for his disappointing season.

"I think I was out of whack in so many ways last year that the wrist was minor,'' he said. "I don't think (the wrist) had too much to do with (the subpar season).''

Crawford used the off-season to analyze why things went wrong and fix his approach at the plate and swing and believes he's found some answers.

"I went back and had a bunch of things to correct, actually,'' he said. "I was able to think about it. Hopefully, I'll do better this year. My mecahnics were just not what they should have been. For whatever reason, it wasn't normal.''

After viewing lots of video in the off-season, Craford determined that his stance, always open, was too wide.

"It seemed like I was late all the time,'' he said. "I'm going to try to do a better job getting ready (to swing) -- little stuff like that is going to help me get over that hump.''

More than any physical issues, Crawford now believes that the problems were mental.

"I think I put a lot of pressure on myself last year,'' he said. "I never played that way before, so I'm just going to stay relaxed and be myself.''

For now, it's unclear where Crawford will bat in the Red Sox lineup. For much of last year, he hit sixth or seventh and never really found a comfort factor.

"That's the big question,'' he said. "I'm not sure where Bobby (Valentine) wants to hit me. Ideally, I've always hit at the top of the order. I don't know where he's going to put me. We'll just have to wait and see.''

Before Crawford can go about the business of preparing for 2012, however, he first must make sure that his wrist is 100 percent.

"It's getting better,'' reported Crawford. "I don't really know when it will be all the way healthy, but right now, it definitely feels better than what it was and we'll continue to build the strength up.

"I don't think (the injury) is a real big deal like everybody might be thinking. It's just going to take a little bit of time to get it right. If I thought it was something dramatic, something really, really bad, I'd be worried. But I don't think this is a problem that's going to set me back.''

For now, Crawford isn't cleared to swing a bat, but hopes that comes soon.

"I think it should be pretty soon,'' he said. "I definitely feel good about it. Once me and the trainers talk about it and both feel good about it, it should be pretty soon.

"I definitely want to be back on the field as soon as possible, so I want to channel my feelings and make sure I do the right thing.''

Last week, Valentine said he expected that Crawford might miss "a few weeks'' at the start of the season, but the outfielder's objective is to be in the lineup April 5 in Detroit.

"In my mind, I think the odds are good,'' he said. "That's my goal right now, to make it for Opening Day.''

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions: Pomeranz is better, but Red Sox fall to Tigers

First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers:

 

1) The same problem remains for Joe Kelly

As a starter, no one doubted Kelly's fastball, and the velocity with which he threw it. But the problem was, Kelly's fastball was often quite straight, and most major league hitters can hit a fastball without movement, no matter how hard it's thrown.

In his first appearance as a reliever for the Red Sox, the same problem reared its head.

Kelly started off Justin Upton with a 99 mph fastball. After an 89 mph slider, Kelly next threw a 101 mph fastball.

But Upton drove it on a line to the triangle for a triple, and two batters later, trotted home on a soft flare to center by James McCann.

Velocity is one thing and can produce some swings-and-misses. But ultimately, Kelly is going to need more than straight gas to get hitters out.

 

2) Drew Pomeranz was miles better in his second start

Pomeranz failed to get an out in the fourth inning of his Red Sox debut and was charged with five runs.

So when Pomeranz -- who allowed just one hit through the first three innings Monday night -- allowed a leadoff single to Miguel Cabrera to start the fourth, there was uneasy sense of deja vu at Fenway.

But Pomeranz quickly erased Cabrera on a double play and through five innings had allowed just three hits and a walk.

He got into some trouble in the sixth when he allowed a one-out, two-run homer to Jose Iglesias, erasing what had been a 1-0 Red Sox lead.

But Pomeranz was far sharper than his first outing, threw his curveball for more strikes and kept the Tigers mostly off-balance. His line (6 IP; 4 H; 2 ER; 2 BB; 7 K) will be more than good enough on most nights.

Just not Monday night.

 

3) They may lead MLB in runs scored, but there are still nights when the Red Sox offense can frustrate

It happened last Friday when they loaded the bases with no out against the Twins - and failed to score in a 2-1 loss.

It was more of the same Monday night when the Sox loaded the bases in the ninth -- and managed just one run.

The problems weren't limited to the ninth, of course. The Sox put the leadoff man on in both the seventh and eighth innings -- and didn't score.

For the game, the Sox left 11 men on and were just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.