Notes: Crawford riding roller coaster
All-Star continues to go through peaks, valleys at the plate
ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford hasn't found his groove yet this season.
The Rays left fielder entered Sunday's game hitting .279 with six home runs and 51 RBIs after riding a first-half roller coaster.
Crawford's average hit a season-high .317 on May 27, before he went on a 1-for-38 (.026) stretch, followed by an eight-game hitting streak (14-for-36, .388), a 1-for-27 (.037) stretch and a seven-game hitting streak (13-for-25, .520). He's now in a 10-for-60 slide (.167).
"I don't even know what to say about it," Crawford said. "It's just, I'm a little off this year. I don't know what it is. I just haven't gotten into a groove like I normally have. It's been a little different for me, so hopefully I can make the adjustments. But the pitching style, the way pitchers are pitching to me now, it's been a little bit different. And it's taken me a little while to adjust to it. Hopefully I can get it going and turn it around for me."
Despite his youth, Crawford has been around and understands he has time on his side.
"There's still a lot of baseball left to play," Crawford said. "But you still want to get it going before too long. It's just a little different this year, so I'm still just trying to fight my way through it. ... They're just not throwing me strikes. I have to be extremely patient this year. I talk to other pitchers from other teams that I know. They're just not going to throw me anything to hit. They're not going to let me beat them. And I haven't realized that."
Crawford said he needs to start taking more walks.
"That's what I need to do," Crawford said. "As long as I just keep swinging at bad pitches, they're going to continue to do that."
But Crawford said taking walks is hard to do.
"That's the problem, because my swing is fine," Crawford said. "I'm not out of whack with my mechanics. The pitch selection, being frustrated about not getting a pitch to hit; all that comes into play. I just have to be more patient and more disciplined at the plate. That's what I need to do."
Pena power: Carlos Pena hit his team-leading 21st home run Saturday night (he ranks fourth in the American League). In Rays history, only Jose Canseco in 1999 (34) had more home runs than Pena after 90 games. Pena is just six home runs shy of his career high of 27, established in 2004 with the Tigers.
Pena, who was a non-roster invitee in the spring, also leads Tampa Bay in RBIs (55), slugging (.617) and walks (41). His .292 average is nearly 50 points better than his career Major League mark entering this season (.243).
Pena currently is in the midst of an 11-game hitting streak, which is one game shy of his career best of 12 (Sept. 8-21, 2002).
To Vero Beach: Right-hander Al Reyes, sidelined since July 3 with a mild rotator cuff strain, and catcher Josh Paul, out since May 20 with a left elbow strain, will join Class A Vero Beach on Monday for a rehabilitation assignment. Reyes is scheduled to throw one inning Monday night against Fort Myers. Catcher Shawn Riggans also is at Vero Beach on assignment. Riggans, on the DL since June 2 with right elbow tendinitis, is 8-for-26 (.308) with a pair of doubles and five RBIs in seven games.
Punchout pair: Scott Kazmir (122) and James Shields (118) have the second-most strikeouts in the Major Leagues by teammates (240) behind Baltimore's Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera (253). Both Kazmir and Shields are on pace for more than 200 strikeouts this season, which would surpass Kazmir's club record of 174 set in 2005.
Up next: The Rays have an off-day Monday before beginning a three-game series against the Angels on Tuesday night in a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Shields will start for the Rays, and he will be opposed by right-hander Ervin Santana.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.