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Crawford at 24 has spot among greats

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published August 5, 2005

ARLINGTON, Texas - Carl Crawford can no longer be considered one of the best 23-year-olds in the major leagues.

That's because the Devil Rays' standout leftfielder turns 24 today.

Crawford gets to his birthday with some impressive totals: 565 hits, 46 triples and 157 steals.

Only two other players since 1900, according to research by the Rays, have done that much that young: Hall of Famer Ty Cobb and Sherry Magee. Crawford has more hits by his 24th birthday than all but five of the players who ended up in the 3,000-hit club: Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Stan Musial, Robin Yount and Cobb.

Crawford has the fourth-most triples (46) of any under-24 player in the past 75 years and the seventh-most steals since 1900.

"Might as well start working on some under-25 stuff," Crawford said. "I just hope I keep doing what I'm doing and climb the ladder with those names. It's always a great honor to be in the same company with those guys."

Manager Lou Piniella said what is most impressive is that Crawford has done so well despite limited experience.

"He's done most of it on just pure natural ability," Piniella said. "Once the experience factor starts kicking in, that's when I think it will all come together for him."

Crawford will appear tonight on Fox's Best Damn Sports Show Period but otherwise had nothing special planned to mark the occasion.

"I never celebrate my birthday because we're always playing," Crawford said. "I never go out. It's usually so late when we're done playing that everything's closed and I end up having room service."

INFIELD INFIRMARY: Shortstop Julio Lugo said his sore left knee felt considerably better after being treated with ice and electric stimulation, and he was in the lineup for the first time since Sunday, going 1-for-3. First baseman Travis Lee said his bruised right shin had improved considerably, and he expected to play again this weekend. Second baseman Nick Green was available to play two days after getting eight stitches to close cuts on his left knee.

MINOR MATTERS: Class-A Visalia outfielder Francisco Leandro was named Rays minor-league player of the month and short-season A Hudson Valley's Wade Davis was named pitcher of the month.

Leandro, a 24th-round pick in 2004, hit .396 with 21 RBIs and had a 22-game hitting streak after a promotion from SW Michigan. Davis, a 2004 third-rounder from Lake Wales, was 4-1 with a 3.22 ERA in six starts, striking out 41 in 361/3 innings and walking only 12.

Baseball America named Durham shortstop B.J. Upton the most exciting player in the Triple-A International League and Joey Gathright, now with the Rays, the fastest baserunner. Eliot Johnson was fastest baserunner in the advanced Class-A California League.

Upton on Wednesday hit his 13th homer, stole his 34th base and committed his 39th and 40th errors. ... Lance Carter on Thursday allowed four runs on five hits, three of them homers, in five innings for Durham. He walked and struck out two.

FRIENDLY FOE: Sam Perlozzo, who was named Thursday to replace fired Lee Mazzilli as manager of the Orioles, coached third for Piniella in Cincinnati and Seattle. "He's a good baseball man," Piniella said.

MISCELLANY: Aubrey Huff extended his hitting streak to nine games and homered for the sixth time in his past 18 games. ... The Rays are 14-6 since the All-Star break. ... There is no TV coverage tonight or Saturday, the result of scheduling decisions made before the season and based primarily on the late start time. ... Senior adviser Don Zimmer was released from a St. Petersburg hospital and will continue recovering at home from Tuesday surgery to remove his gall bladder. ... Rich Herrera made his major-league radio broadcast debut filling in for Dave Wills, who will be away until Tuesday because of a death in his family.

[Last modified August 5, 2005, 01:08:13]

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