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Wednesday, September 21, 2011
"Ask the captain" revisited

By Gordon Edes

BOSTON -- In a column I wrote posted Wednesday, I described how Jonathan Papelbon and Josh Reddick discussed their roles in Tuesday's 7-5 Red Sox loss, and then wrote that not everyone was interested in discussing their role in the defeat, citing outfielder Carl Crawford, who had declined to speak with, or ducked, reporters for the last several days.

"I don't know why you're standing here while I dress,'' I quoted Crawford as saying while several reporters, including yours truly, hovered nearby, "because when I'm dressed I'm leaving.''

I also wrote that Crawford said, "Go ask the captain,'' directing reporters to Jason Varitek, who had not played in Tuesday night's game.

That's all I wrote about it. Did I find the comment odd? Yes. Did I think it reflected an unwillingness to answer questions? (I wanted to ask him about the neck spasms that had caused him to miss Monday's doubleheader.) Yes, and I thought it worth mentioning on a night that Papelbon and Reddick were very professional. What else did I think it meant? Nothing. I took his comment at face value, that if we reporters wanted to talk to somebody, go talk to the captain. Basically, a throwaway line.

Was it delivered with anger? No. I have never seen Crawford angry in the clubhouse. Was he speaking directly to me? Not the "captain" line. I was standing just a few feet in front of him, but he said it in response to something said by another reporter. I don't know exactly what the reporter said, but I knew it was in the context of asking Crawford to talk.

And then I read Wednesday afternoon a blog entry written by reporter John Tomase of the Boston Herald that stated the remark had become "a referendum on Crawford's relationship with Jason Varitek.''

The Herald entry, in its "Clubhouse Insider," continued: "Had Varitek called him out for missing Monday’s doubleheader with a sore neck? Did he think he should have been in the lineup? Were the two at odds?''

Those questions were posed to Varitek, who reacted "incredulously," then walked over to Crawford's locker, where they had this exchange, according to Tomase:

“This guy just asked me if I said something to you the day you didn’t play,” Varitek said. “I said, 'What the (bleep) are you talking about?' I’ve done nothing but have your back since Day 1. I’ll say that in front of him, I’ll say it in front of you."

Varitek and Crawford exchanged fist bumps. "You know what the deal is," Crawford said.


Here's what surprised me about that interpretation of Crawford's remark: Why would Crawford, who wasn't talking, have alerted reporters to a supposed confrontation he had with Varitek? That defies logic, in my opinion. And if I had even a modicum of suspicion that was indeed the case, wouldn't I have asked Varitek -- or someone -- about it? But I didn't approach Varitek, or anyone else, because I never for a moment suspected that was the case. And neither, to my knowledge, did anyone else who heard Crawford suggest we go ask the captain.