By Art Martone
Having spent his entire career in the American League East, Carl Crawford wasn't anxious to leave.
"That was very important to me," he said Saturday. "The American League East is so exciting, the fans are so passionate, there's so much history . . .
"So when I heard Boston was interested, I was definitely excited about it."
Not as excited as the Red Sox were.
"We're really thrilled," said general manager Theo Epstein. "Carl's a dynamic player who impacts the game in every way . . . He's a game-changer for us."
The marriage, then, seemed inevitable, and it became formal Saturday when the Red Sox offically announced the signing and introduced Crawford in a crowded press room at Fenway Park.
A reporter joked that there were probably more people in the room than there were during a typical weeknight game at Tropicana Field, where the Rays -- Crawford's team for the first nine years of his career -- play their home games. But that, said Crawford, was one of the things that most attracted him to Boston.
"I'm definitely ready for that," he said when asked if he was prepared for the 247365 spotlight on the Red Sox. "There's a lot of excitement, a lot of screaming and hollering . . . It's something that gets you up and keeps you going."
And now, as an added bonus, they'll be screaming and hollering for him.
"Instead of me getting booed," he joked, "they can boo somebody else now."
Crawford said he didn't care where he batted in the lineup -- "That's up to Tito (manager Terry Francona)" -- but doesn't really think the Sox can go wrong wherever he winds up.
"I envision it being a very exciting lineup," he said. "You have speed, you have power, you just about have everything you need."
But it was more than the lineup that has him excited about being a Red Sox.
"It's a great group of guys I'm going to," said Crawford, who works out with Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis in Arizona and knows many of the Sox. "I don't think I could be coming to a better situation."
Or a manager who's happier to have him.
"Now that the negotiations are over," said Epstein, "we can say Francona is one of Carl's biggest fans."
Check back later for much more on Crawford's signing from Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen.
Art Martone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.