Even before the Red Sox outfielder's string of setbacks, Garcia –– Crawford's baseball coach at Davis High School in Houston –– believed that his protégé was determined to validate his lucrative seven-year, $142-million contract.
"With all the big money and people talking 'Does he deserve it or does he not deserve it,' he’s the kind of guy that has too much pride," Garcia told NESN.com. "And he wants to go 'I’m going to show these folks.'"
For those reasons, Crawford is accelerating his rehabilitation from a sprained UCL ligament in his left elbow, an injury that will likely require Tommy John surgery over the offseason.
Despite the variance in opinions surrounding Crawford's return from his elbow injury, the 30-year-old is expected to make his season debut in Monday's series-opener against the White Sox.
"At this point in my time right now, I feel like it's time to get out on the field and see what I can do," Crawford said.
But Crawford's penchant for pushing himself isn't news to Garcia. In fact, Garcia grew concerned with the outfielder's intense workouts in Houston shortly after he inked his megadeal with the Red Sox.
"I think he came into the [2011 season] a little weary, a little tired because he came straight from Tampa and he didn’t rest," Garcia said. "He was out at the high school and going to work everyday. I’m like 'Damn man, you might have worn yourself out a bit, you need time off to relax' and he’s like 'No coach, I got to get it.'
"I think he may have overdone it and it may have brought on that [hamstring injury last season] because he never had any problems."
The woes started with the hamstring injury last season. They snowballed when Crawford posted the worst statistics in his professional career, finishing with a career-low .255 batting average and just 11 homers, 56 RBIs and 18 steals.
And Crawford hasn't been able to atone himself just yet, undergoing surgery on his left wrist in January and battling discomfort in his left elbow since March. The trials have halted Crawford's quest for redemption.
"I’ve had to be extremely patient this year to make sure things are where they should be," Crawford said. "It’s been a test for me."
Garcia cites the change in scenery –– from a small market in Tampa Bay to a larger market in Boston –– as the greatest challenge for Crawford. The former high school coach visited Crawford on a few occasions in Tampa Bay and always noted his laid-back demeanor.
Since Crawford bolted for Boston, Garcia hasn't witnessed the same composure.
"In [Tampa], he had a big fish bowl, but in [Boston], he had a little one," Garcia said. "Over in Tampa, he was the man. Over in [Boston], he’s another guy that has to make it work. I think that was tough because ever since he was little –– on all the teams he had been on –– he had been the guy.
"I think he had that attitude ‘I want to still be the guy’ and he didn’t have to. I think he’s going to grow, learn from that and learn all he’s got to do is be on base. I think he’s going to blossom."
Crawford can only hope he reaps rewards from his persistence.
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