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Crawford's big week honored
By MARC TOPKIN and KEITH NIEBUHR
Published May 31, 2006
Carl Crawford, homering during his historic May 24 performance at Toronto, is the second Devil Ray in a row to win AL player of the week.
BALTIMORE - Carl Crawford got plenty of attention for his stellar play last week, including his five-hit, five-run, four-steal performance May 24 that is unmatched in at least the past 50 years.
Tuesday, he got an award, being named American League co-player of the week with Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander.
Crawford hit .484 (15-for-31) on the first seven games of the road trip with three home runs and eight stolen bases while raising his average 36 points to .297.
"It's a nice honor," Crawford said. "I definitely didn't expect this kind of week to happen, but since it did I'm happy with it."
Pitcher Scott Kazmir won AL honors the previous week, giving the Rays their first back-to-back weekly award winners.
READY FOR ACTION:
The Rays want right-hander James Shields to pitch the same way tonight in his major-league debut as he did at Triple A, where he was 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in 10 starts, with 64 strikeouts and an amazing six walks in 611/3 innings.
"I told him, "Be yourself and don't try to pitch any differently. ... Don't think you have to reinvent anything,' " manager Joe Maddon said. "And he seemed to be fine with that."
Shields, 24, said the key has been an aggressive approach, which the Rays have been trying to get all their pitchers to adopt.
"I just like to stay aggressive," he said. "I like to attack hitters. That's just what I'm all about. I don't really like to nibble too much. I just stay aggressive, and luckily enough I haven't had too many walks this year. That's been really good, and I think that's part of my success this year."
Shields, who missed 2002 recovering from removal of a benign tumor in his shoulder, will have plenty of support tonight, including his 2-year-old daughter Ashtyn, longtime girlfriend Ryane Barber, his parents and his brother. He also got a call of congratulations from his first cousin, Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY:
The Rays lost the rights to talented right-hander Bryan Morris, their third-round pick last season, when they couldn't work out a deal by Tuesday's draft-and-follow deadline.
Morris, who sought $1.4-million last June and likely more now, instead pitched for Motlow (Tenn.) Community College, where his father is an assistant coach, and will be draft eligible again June 6.
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said not signing Morris won't necessarily impact how the Rays draft or give them more money to spend, as they do not have a set budget for the draft or international signings.
"That money was never set aside in a shoebox, so it's not really found money," Friedman said at a Tropicana Field media conference. "It's just money we'll spend in other areas."
Though outfielder Rocco Baldelli has looked good in going 8-for-23 in the first seven games of his rehab assignment at Durham, Maddon said the Rays are unlikely to expedite his return, scheduled for around June 10-12, because of the uncertainty of a hamstring strain.
"We just keep trying to emphasize to him to be patient and do this the right way, get your full allotment of time in there, make sure that everything is well," Maddon said.
Second baseman Jorge Cantu went 2-for-3 with a homer and five RBIs in his second rehab game at Double-A Montgomery. Cantu (broken left foot) is expected back around Monday.
The Rays are 1-7 on the seasonlong 10-game road trip. ... Maddon said when Cantu returns, the Rays may make room by dropping a reliever rather than a position player. ... Sunday was the 10th consecutive start against the Red Sox in which Mark Hendrickson allowed at least five earned runs, the longest such streak by any pitcher against one team in the live ball era (since 1920), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Durham outfielder Elijah Dukes was scratched from Monday's lineup after being late to the ballpark. ... The Rays today will have their annual predraft workout at the Trop for area and regional prospects. ... Jeff Niemann (shoulder surgery) could start pitching in the minors in the next two weeks.