09/25/07 7:45 PM ET
Notes: Crawford's season ends
Rays practice caution with left fielder's strained left groin
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The left fielder has been out with a strained left groin since the finale of the Rays' series with the Mariners on Sept. 16.
"They're shutting me down for the rest of the year," Crawford said. "They don't want to take a chance of aggravating it any more -- that's the reason."
Crawford finished the season with a .315 average, 37 doubles, nine triples, 11 home runs, 80 RBIs, 93 runs and 50 stolen bases.
"I'm kind of disappointed a little bit, because I wanted to get the 1,000 hits out of the way this year and I wanted to win the stolen-base title again, from that aspect," Crawford said. "But as far as overall aspect, I'm pretty happy with the way things went. You can't have everything go your way all the time."
Crawford had 184 hits this season, giving him 990 in his career. Entering Tuesday, he led Baltimore's Brian Roberts for the American League lead by two stolen bases.
"He had a great second half," said Rays manager Joe Maddon when asked to put Crawford's 2007 season in perspective. "His second half was probably better than any player in baseball. I think I saw growth in every area of his game. He didn't hit as many home runs as he has in the past. I just liked his approach at the plate. Had his highest batting average, the RBIs were there, runs scored, stolen bases. And I also thought his defense improved.
"There were certain things he did better defensively, like going after balls down the right-field line, and I thought he made better decisions. ... His understanding of the game is really getting better."
Now that his season is over, Crawford feels good about what he accomplished.
"Obviously, the power numbers went down, but I figure they'll go up and down throughout my career," Crawford said. "[I'm] just learning how to get hits all the time. It seems like this year, I got a little better at that. It seems like this year, I was putting a more impressive effort on just trying to get base hits all the time."
Crawford enjoyed his second half.
"I know I sound like a broken record, but it's probably one of the best second halves [the Rays have] ever had," Crawford said. "And it was definitely fun to play with B.J. [Upton] and Delmon [Young]. So, [continuing to play with them] is something I'm just really looking forward to."
Kaz's buddy: Darren Fayard, Scott Kazmir's high school buddy from Houston, threw out the first pitch prior to Tuesday night's game. Fayard served in the Army reserves and was a gunner in his deployment, winning a commendation medal as well as the Oak Leaf Award for engaging the enemy in combat operations.
Kazmir talked to Fayard over the telephone while he was in Iraq.
"He was always talking about [throwing out the first pitch] when he was in Iraq: 'When I first come back, I'm going to throw out the first pitch for you guys,'" Kazmir said. "It's unbelievable what those guys go through over there. ... I have a lot of respect for [the military] guys, going out there serving their country."
Minor Leaguers to be honored: On Wednesday, the Rays will honor their Minor Leaguer Players of the Year, and all of them will sign autographs from 5:45-6:30 p.m. ET as part of Minor League Awards Night. The Rays will also recognize the first winner of the Erik Walker Community Champion Award, given to the Rays Minor League player who exemplifies teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement, attributes exhibited by Walker, the Rays Minor League pitcher who died tragically last October in a canoing accident.
B.J. in good company: According to STATS, Upton, entering Tuesday, owned the fifth-highest average against the Yankees (.451, 23-for-51) in a single season (minimum 50 at-bats) since 1957, behind Mike Hargrove (.500 in 1982 for Cleveland), Jody Reed (.500 in 1991 for Boston), Paul Molitor (.453 in 1985 for Milwaukee) and Ted Williams (.453 in 1957 for Boston).
Up next: The Rays will play the second game of their three-game series against the Yankees at 7:10 on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field. Left-hander J.P. Howell (1-5, 6.80 ERA) will start for the Rays and be opposed by right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (18-7, 3.72 ERA).
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.