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Carl Crawford denies telling Sports Illustrated that he, Carlos Peña are leaving Tampa Bay Rays after season

SEATTLE — LF Carl Crawford may very well leave the Rays as a free agent after this season. But he insisted Tuesday that — no matter what he's quoted as saying in Sports Illustrated — he has made no decision about his future, much less that of teammate Carlos Peña.

"Nothing's changed," Crawford said.

And Peña, for what it's worth, said the same thing.

A feature on Peña in the upcoming edition quotes Crawford as saying, "This core group is going to still be together, me and Carlos are the only two guys that are going to be leaving." SI writer Ben Reiter even notes Crawford was "perhaps giving away more than he should."

But Crawford claimed Tuesday that Reiter didn't quote him correctly, combining the wording of his question with Crawford's answer.

"That was more so him saying everything that he wanted me to say and trying to say I said it; I never said those words," Crawford said. "What's sad is he came up and approached me like a nice guy and stuff and then he wrote that stuff, so that really irritates me a little bit."

Crawford and Peña can be free agents at the end of the season. Both have expressed an interest in staying, though it seems unlikely the Rays can afford to keep them, particularly Crawford, who some say may seek a six- or seven-year deal approaching $100 million.

Crawford and the team agreed after initial talks this spring to suspend further negotiations until after the season. Peña has not had any negotiations yet with the team. "There's been nothing to decide on," he said.

DOUBLE DIP: SS Jason Bartlett and CF B.J. Upton didn't start Monday, as manager Joe Maddon used Monday's travel day to give both the chance for back-to-back days off. Or sort of — Upton came in during the seventh inning.

Though neither expected it, they said they'd take it. "Much-needed," said Upton, who started each of the first 25 games. "And after this I'll be ready to ride out another 25 in a row."

CATCHING ON: Maddon backed off his original plan to use switch-hitting C Dioner Navarro behind the plate for the full series as the Mariners are starting three lefties, saying now he'd consider lefty-hitting John Jaso on Thursday against Ryan Rowland-Smith.

SORI STORY: RHP Rafael Soriano spent 10 seasons in the Mariners organization (including two seasons of rookie ball as an OF/1B) before being traded to the Braves in December 2006 for LHP Horacio Ramirez.

Soriano, a setup man for the Mariners with four saves over parts of five major-league seasons, visited pregame with some M's personnel. "It all started here," Soriano said. "There were a lot of good times."

BAD BOUNCE: INF Reid Brignac could laugh about it Tuesday, but he didn't consider it funny Sunday when a pitch struck his right foot then bounced up and knocked off his helmet.

"I don't think that's ever happened to anyone before," Brignac said. "I don't think it's happened anywhere in the United States, or in the history of baseball."

CLIFF REPORT: Maddon has plenty of respect for Cliff Lee, who starts tonight for the M's.

"He's really grown into one of the best pitchers in the game," Maddon said. "You saw what he did last year in the playoffs (for the Phillies). He's a guy that transcends National and American League boundaries. He's in that other league."

MINOR MATTERS: INF/DH Hank Blalock had four more hits for Triple-A Durham on Tuesday, raising his average to .377. … Through 25 games, Class A Bowling Green has hit six home runs.

MISCELLANY: First-pitch temperature, even with the Safeco Field roof on, was 48 degrees, the seventh sub-50 reading in 11 road games. … 3B Evan Longoria has been named the official "face" of FieldTurf and will do some ads for that company. … Maddon said he'd take the no news is good news approach on LHP J.P. Howell, who threw a 35-pitch bullpen session, the third of his rehab, on Monday in St. Petersburg.

Carl Crawford denies telling Sports Illustrated that he, Carlos Peña are leaving Tampa Bay Rays after season 05/05/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 6:43pm]

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