ANAHEIM -- The Baseball World's Fastest Human for almost a decade, Rays left fielder Carl Crawford is ready to turn the unofficial title over to the Angels' Peter Bourjos -- or any of the other challengers, such as the Yankees' Brett Gardner or Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury.
"Let those guys have a race for it," Crawford said. "I've had it long enough."
Crawford got his first look at Bourjos, the Angels' mercurial center fielder, on Monday night at Angel Stadium, and the Rays' Man of Steal was duly impressed.
"He can really move," Crawford said. "He made some great plays out there. I'd like to see him race Gardner, Ellsbury. I figure [Bourjos] can steal 50 bases. He looks like he can run about as good as any of those guys."
Bourjos respectfully gives the edge to the incumbent sprint champion.
"I think he'd probably beat me," Bourjos said. "There was a ball in the gap [Monday night] and I thought I might have a play on him at second, but when I got ready to throw he was already there."
Crawford, having just turned 29 with free agency knocking on his door this winter, isn't interested in racing anybody.
"I got enough of that in the Minor Leagues when I had to race everybody every year," he said, grinning. "That's how I got anointed the guy when I got to the big leagues. The one guy I would have liked to race was [Joey] Gathright. He talked a lot of trash."
A football and basketball star as a kid in Houston, Crawford was a Deion Sanders admirer and loved to watch the Neon one fly. Crawford never saw Bo Jackson run but met the legend at the All-Star Game this year.
"He said, `You're still going strong -- I like that,'" Crawford said. "I was kind of star-struck, honestly. Bo Jackson. Man."
Scioscia proteges at top of their game
ANAHEIM -- They bonded as buddies and co-workers while the Angels were making the transition from nowhere to champions -- Mike Scioscia as manager, Joe Maddon as his bench coach, Bud Black as pitching coach.
Now Scioscia sees Maddon, at Tampa Bay, and Black, in San Diego, making serious bids for Manager of the Year accolades in their respective leagues with their brilliant leadership of the Rays and Padres, who own two of the three best records in the Majors.
"There's no doubt they're strong candidates for that award and it's well deserved," Scioscia said. "Those guys have done a phenomenal job.
"What Joe Maddon has done in Tampa Bay is as good a turnaround as you're going to see for generations. I don't know if a guy's ever gone in and turned a group [like the downtrodden Rays] into a championship-caliber club like he has.
"A lot can be said for what Buddy's done for San Diego along those same lines. There are similar dynamics. The common thread is those guys are winners."
Maddon and Black spent hours with Scioscia and the rest of his staff in those early years starting in 2000 tossing ideas around that would transform the also-ran Angels into a fast-break offensive team that won with sound defense and superior pitching, culminating in the 2002 World Series championship.
"Buddy, Joe, all of us had a part of it," Scioscia said. "Buddy absorbed things from the offensive end and moved forward. Buddy's impact on our pitching philosophy is here, carried forward by [Mike Butcher, his successor]. Joe and I had similar philosophies [with the running game], and he's moved forward with it.
"Their footprints are still here. Everybody had a hand in moving that forward."
Bourjos laments catch that got away
ANAHEIM -- Peter Bourjos stole a home run from former Angels teammate Sean Rodriguez in the second inning on Monday night at Angel Stadium, but the center fielder wasn't happy that it became a double rather than an out.
"I was really upset I didn't hold onto it," Bourjos said, having elevated above the wall in center only to have the ball bounce off the heel of his glove and fall to the playing surface.
When B.J. Upton doubled, Rodriguez scored a big run in the Rays' 4-3 win. It came at the expense of Scott Kazmir, for whom Rodriguez was dealt last August along with pitcher Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney.
"If I'd gotten up a little higher, I think I'd have been able to control it," Bourjos said. "It just missed the pocket. I was really mad. I saw Sean look out at me. We're friends. I got to know him in big league camp [at Tempe Diablo Stadium]. I talked with him a lot, because he's really into the game. Sean's a great athlete. He can play anywhere on the field, do just about anything you want.
"But I'm still mad I didn't make that catch and he got the double."
Juan Rivera was back at first base for the second time on Tuesday night after delivering a double and single in four at-bats in his debut at the position in the series opener against the Rays. Rivera is the eighth player to handle the position with Kendry Morales out for the season. ... Reliever Rich Thompson, on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation, became a father on Monday night when his wife Ashley gave birth to Richard William, who checked in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces. Thompson has stepped up his throwing program of late and was throwing serious heat at about 120 feet in Minnesota on Saturday. "That's the best I've felt all year," Thompson said. ... Another Angels right-handed reliever, Brian Stokes, continued his recovery from shoulder issues with two scoreless innings in a 7-6 decision over Sacramento. Six of his past seven outings have been scoreless. ... First baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo unloaded his 30th homer of the season for Triple-A Salt Lake, the fifth player in franchise history to reach that plateau. ... The Angels have had one winning month. They were 18-9 in June. Next best: 12-12 in April. ... Updated changes in television schedule: Sept. 4, at Oakland, remains a 1:10 p.m. PT start and will be tape-delayed on FSW at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 vs. Seattle at Angel Stadium is a 6:05 p.m. start, carried live on FSW. Sept. 25, vs. White Sox at Angel Stadium, is a 6:05 p.m. start, live on KCOP. Sept. 29, vs. Oakland at Angel Stadium, is a 12:35 p.m. game aired live on FSW.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.