UPDATE, 7:23: Much more cheers than boos - and many fans standing - as Crawford bats for first time as a visitor, and in a big situation, bases loaded and two outs in first. Shields gets him to bounce out to first on a 1-1 pitch. More cheers.
DEVELOPING: Former Rays All-Star Carl Crawford said it was good to be back at the Trop - and in Tampa - to see old friends and teammates, that he spent part of Monday's off-day at International Plaza and was received well, and still doesn't know what to expect when introduced tonight.
He had a couple of good lines, including this one on the difference between the Rays and the Red Sox:
"It’s a younger team over there so it was like party central all the time. Over there (in Boston), it’s a little more calm, a little more conservative. So that’s the biggest difference.”
Here is more from Crawford from our man Eduardo A. Encina, who will chronicle his whole return in tomorrow's Times:
ST. PETERSBURG – Carl Crawford’s return to Tropicana Field in a visiting player still went through the Rays clubhouse.
Making his first trip back to St. Petersburg in a Red Sox uniform, Crawford first stop was the home clubhouse to say hello to his former Tampa Bay teammates.
But after two months of joining Boston, Crawford – who spent his entire major league career with the Rays before signing with the Red Sox in the offseason – said there is a difference between division rival clubhouses.
“It’s a younger team over there so it was like party central all the time,” Crawford said about the Rays before Tuesday’s Red Sox series opener. “Over there (in Boston), it’s a little more calm, a little more conservative. So that’s the biggest difference.”
In the same easy-going manner that endeared him to Rays fans, Crawford was happy to be back in Tampa Bay. Still, walking into the Trop as a visiting player was different.
“Just when I walked in, just everything about my whole career, I thought about that,” Crawford said. “Pretty much all the games, from the World Series to your first game you played, all the managers that were here. You have a lot of thoughts going through your mind. It wasn’t just one thing. I had a lot of things going through my head.”
During the Red Sox’s off day Monday, Crawford said he walked around a local bay area mall and was recognized by several friendly fans, who he said “had good things to say it really didn’t seem like anyone was upset.”
As for his reception from the locals here, when he is introduced as a member of the Red Sox tonight, he’s has plenty of time to thing about that.
“I’ve been asked that question a lot,” Crawford said. “I’m just hoping it’s not too bad. I figure it’ll be good at first and then once the game starts it will go back to regular stuff. We’ll have to wait and see.”
The Tampa Bay Rays will head into the 2014 season with Evan Longoria, David Price, Ben Zobrist and a few new faces, including Grant Balfour. Can they best the Yankees and Red Sox in the highly competitive AL East? Come here to follow Rays news at Tropicana Field and beyond.