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Rays give Crawford 'much-needed' rest

OAKLAND, Calif. — Not that you could tell by watching him play, but LF Carl Crawford needed a break.

As the only Ray to play in each of the first 46 games, Crawford was eager for a day off, and he and manager Joe Maddon worked it out so he'd get two, sitting out Wednesday's matinee and having today's scheduled off-day.

"Much-needed," Crawford said.

Though he had a hit in each of the first five games of the road trip, he was just 9-for-40 (.225) over his past nine games, dropping his average, which was .300 as late as April 27, to .276. Perhaps more telling, he hadn't stolen a base in that span (and only tried once).

"He's such a hard runner, and Carl's really intense about the game," Maddon said. "He expends a lot of energy every day, and I'm good with it. I want to make sure he's fresh at the end of the season."

Maddon thinks that by giving Crawford the back-to-back days off he should come back even stronger, as he has in previous seasons under similar arrangements.

"I remember last year when we did that, he went from .280 to .325 in like two weeks," Maddon said. "So we'll give him the two days off, get him off his feet. I know historically he's really responded well to the two days."

Said Crawford: "I hope that that's the case, I hope I continue that streak, but I wasn't thinking about that. I just really needed a day off, to be honest with you."

PERCY OKAY: Closer Troy Percival wasn't available Wednesday after feeling tightness in his left hamstring during Tuesday's ninth inning, but he and Maddon say it won't be a problem.

"I'm anticipating that Friday he should be fine," Maddon said.

HOME BOY: Jonny Gomes always enjoys coming back to Oakland, as dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of friends and relatives make the hour-or-so trek from his Petaluma hometown. Wednesday he gave them something to remember, his first homer in 10 games at the Coliseum. "It was good to do it in front of the hometown," he said. "Those guys haven't seen me hit a home run since high school."

NOT-SO-MINOR MATTER: Fifty weeks, extended contract negotiations and an elbow muscle strain after the Rays made him the No. 1 pick in the draft, LHP David Price makes his pro debut tonight for Class A Vero Beach.

Price, who spent the past month pitching in extended spring training games, said he doesn't consider it that big a deal.

"I don't think going to the mound (tonight) is going to be any different than going to the mound in extended spring. I'm going to take the same approach there as I would anywhere else," he said.

His goals for the remainder of the season are similarly simple.

"I want to pitch well," he said. "It doesn't matter where it is, whether it's here or in the big leagues, it doesn't matter. I just want to throw well."

MORE TO COME: As good as LHP Scott Kazmir was in Tuesday's 3-2 win, striking out eight over seven innings, he said he could do even better as he further refines his mechanics.

And as impressed as Maddon was, he agreed: "He's going to get to the point where you're going to see the 95 a lot and you're going to see the nasty slider (get) bad swings."

MISCELLANY: Reliever Scott Dohmann, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. … INF Willy Aybar went 2-for-5 and played second base in a rehab game for Vero. … 2B Akinori Iwamura has hits in six straight games and 17 of his past 18. … Maddon said the official scorer's decision to give Dioner Navarro a double (and three RBIs) when Oakland LF Emil Brown admitted he lost the ball in the lights Tuesday was "the appropriate thing to do."

Staff writer John Romano contributed to this report.

Rays give Crawford 'much-needed' rest 05/21/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 10:04pm]
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