Crawford ready to wear out Boston's bases

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Crawford ready to wear out Boston's bases

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Red Sox signed free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a landmark seven-year, 142 million contract last December, it was an extraordinary investment, the second-largest deal the franchise had ever given.

The Sox were motivated to spend as much as they did because of Crawford's unique skill set, which features virtually unmatched speed and defense.

But surely, it must have been more than a passing thought to Red Sox executives that the commitment would almost be worth it just knowing that the Sox would never again have to watch Crawford torment them as an opponent.

In eight seasons, playing the Red Sox as often as 19 times during the regular season, Crawford wore out the Red Sox, particularly on the bases. Over that time, Crawford successfully stole 62 bases in 66 tries, including 35 steals in a row without being thrown out.

Now, that's someone else's problem.

If you can't beat him, sign him.

"All the things that use to aggravate us when he was in a Tampa uniform,'' said Terry Francona, "hopefully will excite us now that he's in a Red Sox uniform."

Told that Crawford and catcher Jason Varitek had jokingly "buried the hatchet,'' now that they are teammates, Francona cracked: "I still have some animosity. He looks awfully good in our uniform, though. When he walked in today, I said, 'It's amazing how you can hate somebody so much when they were in a different (uniform) and then fall in love with him when he's in your (uniform).''

Indeed, Crawford seemed to save his best for games against the Red Sox. In his rookie season, he hit a walkoff homer off Chad Fox to beat the Sox on Opening Day of 2003, and only last season, stole six bases against them in a single game.

Recalling the six-steal game, Francona said: "It felt like he was going right from first to third, not even (stopping) at second.''

After competing against the Sox for the last eight seasons, the transition from Tampa to Boston is a sizeable one and Crawford may take some time making the adjustment.

"Yesterday,'' said Crawford, "walking into the clubhouse (for the first time), it was new for me. I thought I was ready for it but I still really wasn't. Today, I felt a little more comfortable and I figure as each day goes along, I'll feel comfortable.

"It's a new group of people. I've seen those guys playing on the other side a lot, but it's different when you're actually in the clubhouse with them...I got really comfortable (in Tampa). I knew everything - the little ins-and-outs. Now, I've got to figure everything out again.''

Reminded that his stolen base totals might decline precipitiously because he no longer will get the chance to run against the Red Sox, Crawford blushed some, laughed and said: "I don't think so. I try to get as many as I can every year. That's my goal -- to put pressure on the other team, steal as many bags and get into scoring position.''

He later added that when he saw Varitek recently in Boston, they hugged.

"I let him know, 'I'm on your side now, so you don't have to worry about that anymore,' '' Crawford said.

Later, Varitek told reporters that having Crawford as a teammate would, by definition, extend his career.

Though the Rays didn't have a winning season in their history until 2008, a rivalry between Tampa and Boston developed and grew in recent seasons. It wasn't nearly as intense as the long-standing Red Sox-Yankee rivalry, but it had its moments.

"Over time, we built up a little rivalry,'' said Crawford. "We wanted to beat the Red Sox really bad.''

Crawford's success rate on the bases against the Red Sox almost became a joke. First baseman Kevin Youkilis said earlier this week that Crawford at times told Youkilis when he was going to take off for second, comforted by the knowledge that not even advance warning could stop him from succeeding.

"I don't want to say I told him that,'' said a chuckling Crawford. "Maybe I would say some things to throw him off. It was just a little friendly banter. He knew what I was trying to do and I knew what he was trying to do.''

Now, Crawford will be Youkilis' teammate, trying to beat the Rays the way he once tried to beat the Red Sox. It won't take long for Crawford to meet up with his former team -- the Rays come to Boston in mid-April for the second home series of the season.

"It's going to be fun,'' he said. "It's going to be highly competitive because I know that they're going to try to beat us and we're going to do the same. It should (make for) some interesting games.''

Now, with one twist: Let the other team worry about Carl Crawford.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

Cardinals pull away late for 7-2 victory over Red Sox

The Cardinals broke open a close game with four runs in the last two innings against Red Sox relief prospect Chandler Shepherd and went on to a 7-2 exhibition victory over Boston yesterday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers.

Red Sox-Cardinals box score

The loss dropped the Sox to 1-3 for the exhibition season.

Boston had jumped on top, 1-0, on an RBI single by Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the first, but St. Louis countered with two runs in the second and one in the third, all against starter Brian Johnson. It remained 3-1 until the Cards touched Shepherd for two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Red Sox added their final run in the bottom of the ninth when catcher Jordan Procyshen, who spent last season at Single-A Salem, hit a sacrifice fly.

Moreland, Xander Bogaerts and Chris Young each had two hits for the Red Sox. who also got scoreless relief from Teddy Stankiewicz, Noe Ramirez, Robby Scott, Kyle Martin and Brandon Workman. It was Bogaerts' last game before leaving to compete for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

The Sox host the Yankees on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia taking cues from Tom Brady to extend his career

Dustin Pedroia is no stranger to injuries. That's a big reason why he's no longer a stranger to the sometimes peculiar practices of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In an interview on WEEI's "Bradfo Show," Pedroia told Rob Bradford that he's been taking cues from the five-time Super Bowl-winning QB to help extend his playing career and make his body healthier and more durable.

“I understand what he does and know what he does. I think it’s awesome,” Pedroia told Bradford. “There’s a reason why he’s successful at his age (39), and he looks better now than he did when he first came to the league. You have to be smarter as you get older and learn different styles -- the way to train and the way you take care of your body to be able to perform and stay on the field. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re playing. He’s definitely got that figured out.”

Pedroia, of course, played the entire 2013 World Series-winning season with a torn ligament in his thumb. He's battled through various other lower body and hand injuries over the past few seasons, as well. But in 2016, he had his best season in recent memory, posting his highest OPS since 2011, as WEEI notes.

Part of that is with his own take on the Brady approach -- which focuses more on pliability and resistance training than extensive, heavy weight lifting -- and a healthier overall lifestyle, something Brady is notoriously infamous for having.

"There’s tons of ways to take care of your body. It’s not just get in the weight room and throw weights around,” Pedroia explained. “As you get older, the human body can’t take the pounding if you’re going in there and power lifting. When you’re younger, you can handle some of that. But as you get older, you got to be smarter. Sometimes less is more -- whether that’s weight or reps or whatever. You’ve just got to be smart. And eating wise, that’s a big part of recovery. If you put the right foods in your body, you’ll heal faster if you’re injured or recover faster. It’s like a car, man. Put bad gas in, bro. It’s not going to be the same as good gas.”

He hopes the approach can, at the very least, keep him moving for quite some time.

“I plan on living until I’m 100," he said. "So we’re not even halfway home."