Crawford surprised by switch to center
The lineup card Monday provided for plenty of conversation in the Rays clubhouse, with star leftfielder Carl Crawford being moved to centerfield for today's game with the Royals.
Crawford said he was "surprised," having found out this morning (two hours before gametime) of the move - which manager Joe Maddon said was made to both give CF B.J. Upton a day off and get Jonny Gomes in the lineup (he's in leftfield).
Crawford clearly wasn't excited about the switch, but accepted it to help the team and give Upton a day off. He said the move to center takes him out of his comfort zone, which is why he had hoped for a little more of a warning so he could prepare himself. Crawford last played CF June 18, 2006 in an interleague game in Philadelphia.
"(Maddon) ambushed me with it today," Crawford said when asked if he had received any warning.... "I wish I would have had a little more notice. But I don't know how that decision came about. But it is what it is. Just gonna run out to centerfield today."
Does it change his mindset?
"You're thinking about (it) - you're taking a conscious effort to think about what you're doing now," Crawford said. "My game is usually based on me not thinking at all, just more knowing that this is what I'm going to be doing. So today, I'm gonna be thinking a little bit more than what I normally do. And we'll see how that goes."
Maddon said with his current roster, Gabe Gross would be another option in centerfield.
As for Gomes, Maddon said he wanted to get the right-handed outfielder/DH in the lineup today partly because of his success against Royals starter Gil Meche (two homers in four at-bats) and also to get him in a rhythm as he's scheduled to start Tuesday as well against lefty Andy Pettitte. Maddon also wanted to get Eric Hinske in the lineup today too.
“I wanted to try to juggle – I wanted to give B.J. the day off, that was part of it also," Maddon said. "B.J. was going to get the day off, he knew about that in advance. I was just trying to decide again the best way to get everyone in the lineup that I wanted in the lineup. That’s the way it worked out.”
The tinkering with the lineup is something Maddon said he'll likely have to do the rest of the season, just to keep people fresh, and give other regulars, like Upton and Akinori Iwamura, a day off.
-- JOE SMITH