BOSTON -- Allen Craig was clear across the country Thursday when he heard about the trade that would send him from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Red Sox.
The trade was something of a shock, and Craig, who -- after flying from San Diego to Boston -- was trying to get himself acclimated Friday afternoon.
"It's still sinking in,'' said Craig, "just being in the clubhouse and putting some names to the faces and that type of stuff. But I'm just looking forward to getting out there and playing ball.''
Craig was looking forward to being part of a lineup that features some offensive firepower, with David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and fellow newcomer Yoenis Cespedes.
"I'm really excited about it,'' Craig said. "It's going to be fun. I feel like I can contribute offense; that's what I've done my entire career and that's what I feel like I'm going to be able to do, to contribute somewhere in the lineup and just do my thing and drive guys in.''
He welcomed having Fenway as his home ballpark.
"Last year, in the World Series, was my first time [here],'' said Craig, "and I loved it. I love being here, I love the atmosphere. It was a great experience for me, so I'm happy to be back.''
One negative: Craig left a Cardinals team two games out of first place in the National League Central and joins a team that is occupying the basement of the American League East, 12 1/2 games out.
"To be honest, I really haven't thought that far through it,'' said Craig. "I'm excited to be a part of this organization and meet some of these guys. Obviously, the tradition here is rich, winning the World Series last year. I'm just here to do my part and contribute to another good team.
"I've been really lucky in my career to be with the Cardinals for as long as I was and to get chance to play here is something I'm really excited about.''
For the time being, Craig will play regularly left field, which will require getting to used to playing caroms off The Wall.
"That's going to take some time to learn,'' said Craig with a smile.
As shocking as the trade was, Craig is looking at it a fresh start.
"It's obviously a new chapter,'' he said. "I look at it in that way. I spent a lot of years with the Cardinals and I'm really excited to see where this opportunity is going to go.''
Craig won't have to wait long before returning to St. Louis -- after one series at Fenway this weekend, the Sox visit St. Louis for a three- game interleague set beginning Tuesday.
"The timing of it is a little funky in that regard,'' said Craig, "but it's going to be fun to be going there and playing against my former teammates and go back to St. Louis.''
Regardless of where he's playing, Craig hopes for better results over the final third of the season. After hitting .300 or better in each of his first three full seasons, he hit just .237 in the first four months with the Cardinals.
"The first half of this season was a huge learning experience for me,'' said Craig. "That's what this game is about is learning and making adjustments and figuring out what pitchers are going to do to you and I feel like I learned a lot from the first half of my season and I'm ready to look forward.''