For Crow, All-Star experience just the start
Reliever doesn't see game action, but values being there
PHOENIX -- Here at Chase Field, the All-Star Game was not yet the Royals' party, and that's illustrated by the fact that their lone representative was a rookie middle reliever, Aaron Crow, who was not called upon to pitch in the American League's 5-1 loss to the National League.
Next year, though, could be different on a lot of levels. Not only will the game be held on Kansas City soil at Kauffman Stadium, but the Royals, if their grand plans come to fruition, could have multiple deserving candidates reach the roster.
Crow, for one, can see that coming.
"We have guys like Danny Duffy, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, who have all made their debuts this year," Crow said. "And there's a lot of guys who have a few years in the league but are still young, like Billy Butler and Alex Gordon. We have a solid foundation, and hopefully we'll keep building on it. I think a lot of those guys will be in future All-Star Games."
Crow, who got to ride on a private jet chartered by Justin Verlander, and had a lot of fun soaking up the All-Star atmosphere these past two days, looks at 2011 as an important building block for the Royals' future. The organization's farm system is highly touted, and the club's strong April gave fans a taste of what winning baseball could be like.
"I could definitely see a lot of those guys making the team next year, because they all have the ability," Crow said. "It's just about figuring out how to adjust to the big league level. Some of them have done a pretty good job, others it's taken them a little bit longer. But we're all figuring out what it takes to be a big leaguer, and I think we're doing a pretty good job."
Crow has done a very nice job, especially for a guy who spent the bulk of last season at the Double-A level and actually finished it in High-A. Crow took a 2-2 record and 2.08 ERA into the break. He allowed 10 earned runs and 20 walks, while striking out 44 and holding the opposition to a .197 average against in 43 1/3 innings over 36 appearances in the first half.
But as well as Crow, who converted to relief work in Spring Training, has taken to his role, the possibility exists that the Royals, looking to shore up their rotation for the coming years, could move him back into a starting role in 2012.
Could it be, then, that if the 24-year-old Crow ever reaches the All-Star Game again, it would be as a starter?
"Who knows?" he said. "I've had so much success this year as a reliever. It doesn't matter to me, either way. The Royals have tons of young guys coming up in the bullpen and the rotation. Wherever they need me, I'll be happy to serve in that role."
That's not the kind of talk you usually hear out of the mouth of an All-Star, as most of the guys here are well-established in their role. But Crow sees a bright future for his team, and he simply wants to be a part of it in any capacity that he can.
"There's nothing set in stone," he said of his role, "as far as I know."
Crow seems to lean toward relieving, given that he's had so much success in that department this season, and his body has responded well to the challenge of being ready to pitch on a nightly basis.
"I've always had an easy time getting loose and bouncing back the next day," he said. "I think the hardest thing for guys is making sure they don't throw too much before they go in the game. You don't need 15-20 pitches to get loose to throw only one inning. So throwing as little as you need to get loose, and limiting what you throw so that you can bounce back. That's the key. In the beginning of the year, I was throwing too much in the bullpen. But now I can throw two or three innings in a row."
Unfortunately, Crow didn't get to throw any innings Tuesday night. But that didn't stop him from enjoying this All-Star experience and everything that comes with it.
And maybe next year, it will come with a few more members of the host Royals.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.