February 28, 2011
The Unveiling of Carl Crawford
FORT MYERS—As Carl Crawford, the most expensive free agent of the past offseason, got ready to take the field this spring for the first time in Grapefruit League play Monday afternoon, one thought flashed through Red Sox manager Terry Francona's mind.
"I used to hate seeing him on the other side," Francona said after the Red Sox beat the Twins 7-6 at City of Palms Park. "Now I love seeing him on my side."
Crawford spent the first nine seasons of his major-league career playing for the Rays, the Red Sox's American League East rival. The Rays won the division title in 2008 and 2010 and also knocked off the Red Sox in the '08 American League Championship Series.
However, Crawford is now on the Red Sox's side after signing a seven-year, $142 million contract in December. Red Sox fans were so excited that they gave Crawford an ovation as soon as he began stretching in left field about 15 minutes before game time.
"It was very nice," Crawford said. "It was my first game with the Red Sox and I was just trying to take it all in. It was fun. I've enjoyed every minute I've been here. Everyone has made me feel so comfortable this spring. I feel right at home."
Crawford went 0-for-3 with a strikeout but the results didn't matter on this day. Just the reality of having him in uniform was enough to make everyone associated with the Red Sox happy.
"You're talking about one of the premier players in the game," Francona said. "We're very excited to have him and what he'll bring to our club."
Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury also made his spring debut and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. He was limited to just 18 games last season because of broken ribs.
"I feel great," Ellsbury said. "I'm ready to pick off where I left off last season before I got hurt. I felt I came into camp last year in great shape and was ready to have a really good year. I feel that way again this year."