Crisp, Royals both waiting for answers
Outfielder has suitors, but rehab remains an issue
INDIANAPOLIS -- For Coco Crisp, the waiting game is on. For the Royals, who are looking for a speedy center fielder in the Crisp mold, it's a matter of how long they can wait.
Crisp is in the free-agent pool during the Winter Meetings, which continued Tuesday with the Royals still sifting through possibilities for a catcher, a pitcher or two and a center fielder.
Center field was Crisp's role last season after being obtained in a trade with the Red Sox for reliever Ramon Ramirez. But surgery to repair the rotator cuff and labrum in both shoulders cut short his season.
"We're still looking at Coco, but there's nothing to report," said Royals general manager Dayton Moore. "We're still evaluating the risk/reward with him and I know he's filtering through it, too."
Crisp is doing that from his California home, watching some of the Winter Meetings on television. His agent is making the rounds here.
"The level of interest varies, and I'm just guessing, but I would say there's close to a dozen teams that have a level of interest. What level that is remains to be seen," Crisp said by phone.
The 30-year-old switch-hitter is working with a personal trainer and is confident he'll be full speed by Spring Training and ready for the season.
"I'm not worried about the capability of playing 100 percent as far as the season goes, but teams are, and that's very understandable coming off of surgeries," Crisp said.
That's obviously the case with the Royals.
"Until he starts throwing and hitting and getting into it, you really don't know," Moore said. "You can characterize it this way: It's one of those deals where you don't make a decision until you have to. You just keep learning more and more about the recovery."
And with Crisp not yet ready for high-volume hitting or throwing, the Royals are looking for other alternatives in center field.
One possibility is Scott Podsednik, who might return to the Chicago White Sox. He's considered a highly sought player, which surely will drive his price far beyond the $800,000 he made last year.
Felix Pie, who's been edged out of Baltimore's starting outfield, has drawn attention as well, but the Royals can't seem to find a match for a trade. The Orioles are seeking a third baseman, a first baseman and pitching. Pie batted .266 in 101 games last season.
The White Sox were reported eyeing Crisp well before the Winter Meetings.
"They said that they are interested in me, but they haven't talked any dollars or timelines or anything like that, so I guess everybody's trying to wait and see how the market is going to unfold," Crisp said. "To put price tags on everybody is a waiting game."
The Royals turned down their $8 million option on Crisp for 2010, preferring to pay him a $500,000 buyout.
"Obviously he had extensive surgery on both shoulders and he's an aggressive player," Moore said. "His legs are obviously still very good and he was terrific for us. But we've got to look at it open-minded."
In Spring Training, Crisp adjusted his hitting approach to coax more walks and improve his on-base percentage as the leadoff hitter. But when the season began, he had trouble at the plate because of his shoulder problems. He was shut down after 49 games in which he hit .228 but had a .326 on-base percentage and stole 13 bases in 15 tries.
"I hurt my right arm first, and that was my lead arm hitting on the left side. That made it hard for me to get to the inside pitches," Crisp said. "So I had to try to find ways to get hits from the left side, and that was tough to do."
Then his left shoulder went, too, and Crisp, though tempted, decided against trying to play hurt.
Giving his recent rehabilitation, will he be able to throw better next year?
"Well, I can't throw any worse," Crisp said wryly.
"I think one of the reasons I got hurt was I was working the arm so much in the offseason to get it stronger and when I got to Kansas City, I actually had a pretty decent arm. I guess my shoulder wasn't accustomed to my constantly giving it as much as I had on the throws because I was confident in my arm and I ended up hurting it."
But he'd like to return to the Royals.
"I enjoyed playing out there in Kansas City for the short time I was there and being around the guys, from the ballplayers to the front office," he said. "I think they were kind to me and helped me make all the right decisions for my career. So if the opportunity was there for me to play there again, I'd like to do that, but things have kind of simmered down a little bit with the Royals."
It's a waiting game on both sides.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.