Sunday, April 3, 2011
Carl Crawford dropped to 7th in lineup
By Gordon Edes
Two games into the season, and Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona was shuffling his lineup, moving Carl Crawford down to seventh against Texas lefty Matt Harrison in Sunday's game.
Crawford went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the Red Sox's 5-1 loss.
Before Sunday's game, Crawford had yet to get the ball out of the infield in seven at-bats, striking out four times. He reached base on a walk in his last plate appearance Saturday night against Rangers rookie Mason Tobin, who was making his major league debut.
"I think looking at him, it's kind of obvious he's trying too hard," Francona said before the game. "Especially with a lefty today, just kind of let him sit down there. As soon as he gets on base, causing some havoc, he'll loosen up and the real Carl will come out."
Crawford is not accustomed to doing much sitting in his career. In six of the previous eight seasons, he played in 150 or more games. Last season, his first day off didn't come until May 18, Tampa Bay's 39th game of the season. He got off to a great start in 2010, batting .337 in April.
This season, Crawford comes in with what has proven to be added pressure for other players, a huge new contract -- seven years, $142 million.
Crawford's former manager, Joe Maddon of the Tampa Bay Rays, acknowledged during spring training that Crawford would face increased attention but didn't think it would be an issue.
"He's going to get scrutinized to a level now that he wasn't scrutinized here," Maddon said. "I don't know how he's going to react to that. Obviously if he's doing well, it's not going to be an issue. If he's struggling at all, it may become an issue.
"He's going to do fine, he's going to do fine. That's what I believe."
Crawford had never started in the No. 7 spot in his career, though he has made 43 starts in which he batted either eighth or ninth. In his seven at-bats out of the 7-hole, he was hitless.
Francona made a few more changes in Sunday's lineup. Jed Lowrie got his first start of the season at shortstop, spelling Marco Scutaro, and Darnell McDonald started for J.D. Drew in right field.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.