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Tampa Bay Rays' leftfielder Johnny Damon understands close scrutiny of Carl Crawford

Back on the mound: Wade Davis says he is “pretty happy” with his first batting practice session, a 32-pitch outing.

EDMUND D. FOUNTAIN | Times

Back on the mound: Wade Davis says he is “pretty happy” with his first batting practice session, a 32-pitch outing.

PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays LF Johnny Damon can understand why a player such as former Rays and new Red Sox LF Carl Crawford might be a bit uncomfortable being monitored by a team. But Damon said scrutiny is part of the scene in Boston, and he can see the team's point, too.

On Tuesday, Crawford said he was "creeped out a little bit" upon hearing the Red Sox monitored him for months on and off the field before signing him as a free agent in December.

"I'm on both sides of the fence," said Damon, who played for the Red Sox from 2002-05. "I know Boston had followed guys before, like Mo Vaughn especially. They wanted to see what he was doing all the time. The Boston fans, they follow you around, too, to see what you're doing. It seems like they're everywhere.

"But when a team's investing $142 million, they probably have a right to know every little bit of your history; ex-girlfriends, how's his family. It's a big investment. You don't like to have that happen, but it needs to. Teams can't afford to take a risk like that for there to be any problems. Teams have to be prepared. A lot of teams signed guys in the past, and they didn't know certain things."

Damon said he's "sure people have looked into everything I have done, too. It's not private. Unfortunately, when (Crawford) plays this game, so many things become public and people know you that way."

WADING IN: Knowing his spot in the rotation is secure, RHP Wade Davis wanted to work on some things in his delivery before facing hitters.

So he waited until Thursday, two days after the other pitchers in his group, to throw his first batting practice. The benefit was obvious as both he and manager Joe Maddon were pleased with his 32-pitch performance, specifically his alignment to the plate.

"I just wanted to see how the ball was basically coming out of his hand, and I thought it was really good," Maddon said. "He looked free. The one thing he's working on is a better alignment to the plate, and he had that going on."

Davis said without having to prove himself to win a job, he can focus on specific issues.

"I feel like it was nice and easy all the way through," he said. "I threw some quality pitches. I'm pretty happy with that. I really want to clean up my line to the plate."

SQUEEZE PLAY: The Rays have had to accelerate their usual schedule with the exhibition season starting Saturday — just the sixth day the full squad will have been in camp. On Thursday they worked briefly on pickoffs and rundowns.

Today it will be bunt plays and bunt defense during a 21/2-inning controlled intrasquad game. And before Saturday's game they'll go over cutoffs and relays.

PITCHING IN: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (strained right hamstring) is targeted to return to the mound by Sunday. … LHP Alex Torres caught Maddon's eye with another impressive session on the mound.

MISCELLANY: Today's workout will be over by 10:30 a.m. so players can head to the team charity golf tournament on the Ritz-Carlton course at Lakewood Ranch. … CF B.J. Upton said he was still sore but not in any way limited after being hit by an Adam Russell fastball on Wednesday. … Tickets remain available for Saturday's opener. … Andrew Hauser was named trainer for Double-A Montgomery after the resignation of Rodger Fleming, and Kris Russell was hired from the Tampa Yankees to replace Hauser at Class A Charlotte. … Ohio State and Western Michigan will play on the stadium field at 2 today. Admission is free.

Tampa Bay Rays' leftfielder Johnny Damon understands close scrutiny of Carl Crawford 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 9:55pm]

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