More cheers than boos for Crawford

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
3:49
PM ET
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- This being the hinterlands, Carl Crawford may have a different experience the first time he returns to The Trop in St. Petersburg.

[+] EnlargeCarl Crawford
AP Photo/Charles Krupa Carl Crawford got more cheers than boos on Thursday as he faced his former club for the first time.
But Thursday, he agreed that the reception he received while wearing a Red Sox uniform against his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays, wasn't bad.

"No,'' he said. "Not at all.''

Of course, that might have something to do with the number of Sox fans present in Charlotte Sports Park. There were more than a few, judging by the boos new Ray Johnny Damon heard during his at-bats, Sox fans with long memories still nursing a grudge that Damon ever wore pinstripes. And by the cheers that came when Oscar Tejeda and Drew Sutton hit home runs on consecutive pitches in the ninth inning, giving the Sox a 6-5 lead.

The Sox lost, 8-6, on Robinson Chirinos' two-run homer off Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the ninth.

Crawford received more cheers than boos his first at-bat. By his third appearance, he barely drew a ripple from the 7,322 in attendance.

"I wasn't paying attention to the crowd, man,'' he said.

Crawford said he went through his normal on-field routine before the game, signing a few autographs. Asked what was said to him, he said:

"I tried to tune them out,'' he said. "There really wasn't much being said. It was better than I expected. It wasn't bad at all.''

Meeting with the media before the game, Crawford, who had been with the Rays since 1999 until signing a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Sox, said he hoped he wouldn't get the LeBron James treatment (though never mentioning the basketball player by name).

"I had a great time in Tampa,'' he said, "hopefully I won't be considered the villain as some people try to make me out to be. I had a lot of fun times here, I love the fans here, and those are still my boys in the other clubhouse.''

Crawford said he visited with "his boys" before the game, and said hello to manager Joe Maddon on the field before the game.

"I said hello to everybody, got that out of way,'' he said. "They wished me well. I did the same to them. Just going to move forward.''

A weird experience? Not really, he said, but good to get out of the way.

"Just to see how it feels the first time you play against your former team, get that feel, so you know what to expect the next
time.''

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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