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.''

Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: Playoff format going to irk somebody

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Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

Trump invites Patriots to White House to celebrate Super Bowl on April 19

The Patriots have been invited to the White House to celebrate their Super Bowl LI victory with president Donald Trump on April 19.

How many players RSVP in the affirmative to the invitation remains to be seen. 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, a Patriots fan, announced the date at a press briefing on Thursday. Spicer noted that the visit will coincide with the 242nd anniversary of the battles at Lexington and Concord.

Though Trump considers Patriots owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady as friends, several members of last season's championship roster have noted already that they didn't play to attend a celebratory trip to Trump's White House. 

The list of those who have gone on record saying they weren't interested in heading to Washington, DC this year includes safety Devin McCourty, tight end Martellus Bennett (now a member of the Packers), defensive end Chris Long (free agent) and running back LeGarrette Blount (free agent). Defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Dont'a Hightower also noted that they didn't plan to go.

The Patriots are the first championship team that Trump has extended an invitation to during his presidency.

Belichick and his staff will be hard at work before taking some time off to celebrate. The White House visit will take place about one week before Day 1 of the NFL Draft.