DALLAS - The soreness in his left wrist has disappeared and the painful memories of last season are just about gone, but Carl Crawford still sounded a little hurt Sunday.
Crawford, who confirmed he has agreed to play for the U.S. team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, said the Devil Rays' decision to sign Rocco Baldelli, who missed the 2005 season with injuries, to a long-term deal similar to his left him shocked, confused and eager for his next contract.
"I'm happy we signed Rocco because we need him, but it's just a little weird," Crawford said from his Phoenix-area home. "A situation like that always raises eyebrows. I'm not going to sit here and say I'm upset, and I'm not going to sit here and say it's something I like to see. What I will say is that I understand that it is the way it is. ... I don't want to say much, but I was a little surprised, a little shocked."
Both outfielders signed six-year deals for around $32-million, though there are significant differences. Crawford gave the Rays options on his first two years of free agency and Baldelli gave up three years, and Crawford gets more guaranteed money, $15.25-million to $9-million. Still, they apparently are similar enough that Crawford is already looking forward to his next deal, even though this one can run through 2010.
"It's a little different than the way my contract is, but whenever I can be a free agent again, I know how I'll handle things," he said. "Don't think I'm not looking forward to being a free agent again."
He also said he wondered how it would have worked out if he had been the one injured. "I'm not too sure if what happened (to Baldelli) had happened to me, if it would have been handled the same way," he said. "I'm just happy to see the organization be generous like that. I hope if I'm injured and out for a year that I get the same kind of treatment."
Crawford said there is no longer pain in his wrist, which sidelined him for the final five games of the season, though he has yet to test it by swinging a bat. "Just being cautious," he said.
He said he likes what he has seen from the team's new administration, especially the hiring of Steve Henderson as hitting coach. "I'm actually looking forward to spring training already," he said.
And he said he signed paperwork that committed him to playing in the inaugural Classic in March, but he hasn't heard if he has been chosen for the U.S. team. Details will be announced today. "It should be a big deal," he said.