Crawford looks to put last season behind him

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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.''

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.