Crawford 'looking forward' to seeing the Rays

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Crawford 'looking forward' to seeing the Rays

By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Carl Crawford was asked if he was looking forward to traveling to Port Charlotte on Thursday to face the Tampa Bay Rays, his former team, and . . .

Crawford laughed at his questioner's pause and filled in the blank.

Getting it out of the way? he asked with a laugh. Yeah, you know, I want to go over there. I know Im going to get asked a bunch of questions. So might as well get it out of the way in spring training and get it over with.

It will be the first time hell have seen most of his teammates since signing a seven-year, 142 million contract with the Red Sox in December. There will be some emotions involved. The Rays are the team with which he grew up. Selected as a 17-year-old in the second round of the 1999 draft out of Jefferson Davis High in Houston, Crawford spent his entire career with Tampa Bay including nine big-league seasons until this year.

Im looking forward to seeing the guys, he said. I havent seen them since last year. So its going to be fun to go over there and see everybody again.

Told that Rays manager Joe Maddon has said he is looking forward to seeing Crawford and thanking the outfielder for what he did for the Rays, Crawford said:

Thats cool. I had a lot of fun with those guys, a lot of memories. Joe, he was really a big part of turning that organization around. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

Asked to compare Maddon he of the nearly 20,000 Twitter followers -- with his current manager Terry Francona, Crawford smiled and said:

Well Tito seems like hes a little more laid back, not really into the whole TV thing. Joe, he likes to be on TV. Hes like a little celebrity over there.

The Rays are expected to start right-hander Andy Sonnanstine Thursday.

Its going to be weird just being on the other side, period, facing one of the guys you got ready to play games with all the time, and just being in a Red Sox uniform, Crawford said. So, just got to get used to it. Im glad Im getting used to it in spring training.

I will be nice to see everybody. But, after that, we just have to play the game and its going to be business as usual.

Crawford thinks his former team will still be a factor in the American League East this season.

Oh yeah, he said. Whenever you got pitching like that, you're never out of it. Everyone knows pitching wins games. When you got pitchers like they have youre always in it.

But, after watching the Red Sox from across the field for nearly a decade, he knew hed fit in well with his new team.

I wanted to play with these guys, he said. This is a special group right here. I could see myself in this lineup. I could envision myself in this lineup before it actually happened. It was more so, besides the money, of being on a team where I can fit in and play my game and know were going to be winning.

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told CSNNE.com before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to CSNNE.com “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”