Barely back in the swing of things, drama has seemed to chase down Carl Crawford since he’s returned to the Red Sox lineup.
Between the incident July 5 at a rehab game in Manchester, N.H., when a fan (who turned out to be a Leominster, Mass., police officer) used an obscure racial slur against Crawford, and rumors surfacing Wednesday that the Marlins and Dodgers were contacted about their interest in dealing for him, commotion has come in heavy doses.
In the second year of a seven-year, $142 million contract, and finally back after wrist, elbow, and groin injuries that cost him the first 89 games of the season, he did his best to drown out the noise before the Red Sox took on the White Sox at Fenway Park.
The trade rumors clearly caught him off-guard. (“Yeah, I was surprised,” he said. “Still surprised right now.”) He had played all of two games, including going 3 for 4 with three stolen bases Tuesday night, and first heard of the rumors from the media in the clubhouse.
“I hadn’t really heard too much about it, but there’s nothing really to say about it,” he said. “You just have to get ready to play every day, and those kinds of things come up and you just shrug it off.”
Manager Bobby Valentine, who discussed the rumblings on the radio earlier in the afternoon, told reporters before the game that he heard about the rumors as he was walking up the stairs to his pregame news conference.
“I’m not surprised at anything,” Valentine said. “Stuff is made up and blown up, and so I’m never surprised.”
Asked if he considered whether the talk could affect Crawford on the field, Valentine said it would affect him like it would anyone whose name is mentioned as the July 31 trade deadline nears.
“This is the world that we live in and, regretfully, you’ve got to survive in it,’’ said Valentine. “I think Carl’s tough. He’ll be fine.”
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington expressed his displeasure over the trade rumors, saying the Sox in no way were shopping their left fielder.
“This time of year, teams call all the time and they throw all sorts of stuff around,’’ Cherington said after the Red Sox pounded the White Sox, 10-1. “In this particular case, the truth is we didn’t place any calls about him, a team threw a concept at us that didn’t make sense and that’s all there was to it.
“We were not out shopping and we were not out there gauging interest.’’
Crawford went 1 for 3 with 2 runs Wednesday night and is 5 for 10 with 6 runs, a walk, an RBI, and 3 stolen bases in three games since being activated from the DL Monday.
“Carl’s worked his tail off to get back in the lineup and obviously he’s gotten off to a good start,’’ Cherington said. “And the last thing in the world we want is to distract him [from] that. Whatever it is, it is, but he’s here, nothing’s going on and he’s our left fielder.’’
After hitting at least .300 in five of his last six seasons in Tampa Bay, Crawford hit .255 last season, the worst mark of his career, never adjusting as he hit in every spot in the order except fourth, fifth, and ninth.
Still trying to get his feet under him this season, Crawford said, “Yeah, I like playing here so far, especially when you’re doing well. When you’re doing well, it’s the best place to play.”
Meanwhile, it was announced that the officer who directed the racial slur at Crawford will be placed on administrative leave pending the disciplinary hearing set for July 25.
“I really don’t want to comment on that,” said Crawford, who received an apology from the officer. “I’m just trying to put that stuff behind me and move forward.
“They told me he was a police officer. It surprised me that he was a police officer. It’s disappointing.”