The Red Sox outfielder wasted no time joining the action. After a brief conversation with manager Bobby Valentine, Crawford took left field and started shagging fly balls alongside teammates.
For now, that’ll be the extent of his training. Although Crawford reported early to spring training, he still isn’t cleared to swing a bat after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist in January.
“It’s getting better,” Crawford said. “I don’t really know when it’ll be all the way healthy, but right now, it definitely feels better than what it was and I’ll continue to build strength. [Clearance for swinging activity] should be pretty soon.”
Once Crawford returns, he plans to tweak his batting stance. During his first season in Boston, the four-time All-Star struggled to produce offensively, batting a career-low .255 while striking out 104 times.
He didn’t attribute his subpar season to his nagging wrist injury. Crawford ––who examined footage of his posture in the offseason –– ultimately accepted the view that he should tighten his stance.
“I think I was out of whack in so many ways,” Crawford said. “I just couldn’t figure it out. So it just kept getting worse and worse and worse. That’s what happened from that and now I’ll try my best to stay on top of what I need to remember and hope my athletic ability can take over like it normally do.”
That athleticism came into question on Sept. 29, 2011, when Crawford missed a diving catch on Orioles infielder Robert Andino‘s hit. The miscue resulted in the Orioles’ 4-3 win, capping the Red Sox’s 7-20 meltdown. As much as Crawford attempted to move forward, he couldn’t escape the image that drilled the last nail in the Red Sox’ coffin.
“[The replay] was over and over, like Linsanity,” Crawford said, referring to Knicks guard Jeremy Lin’s highlight reels. “I turned my TV off a little bit to forget it. I had a bad cringe in my body every time I saw it.”
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis said he hopes Crawford is successful in exorcising his demons from last season.
“Hopefully that year is behind him,” Youkilis said. “If he plays up to his level, it’ll be great for Carl’s mental side, which will help our team.”
Before bouncing back, Crawford needs to regain his health. Despite the early setback, Crawford seemed confident that he could rehab his wrist in time to start for the Red Sox on Opening Day.
“In my mind, I think the odds are good,” Crawford said of being ready for Opening Day. “You know, I definitely don’t want to miss any games. That’s my goal right now, to make it for Opening Day.”