tampabay.com

Crawford part of order revamp

The tweak is an effort to spark the offense.

By Marc Topkin
Published July 4, 2007


BOSTON - Manager Joe Maddon wanted to try something (anything?) different to shake up his struggling Devil Rays team, and All-Star Carl Crawford said he was willing to do "whatever helps."

No, that didn't mean Maddon shifted Crawford to centerfield, allowing Delmon Young to return to right.

But Crawford, whose 0-for-4 Tuesday extended his latest skid to 3-for-33, dropping his average to .281, did move up a spot in the batting order to second.

"Just trying to do whatever we could to shake it up just a click, " Maddon said. "C.C. had a pretty good last two months prior to this but this one is not as good, and a big part of that is plate discipline, swinging at a lot of bad pitches. ...

"Just trying to put him in a different house for a little bit, a different apartment, a different condo and see how it works if the view is different and all of a sudden it makes him take off."

In the revamped lineup, which Maddon said he'll stick with the rest of the week, the Rays' 3-4 hitters are Brendan Harris and Carlos Pena, two players who didn't figure to even make the team until the end of spring training. They also have three lefties, with Akinori Iwamura leading off, among their top four, making them vulnerable to left-handed relievers.

Crawford considers second his natural slot and said he will be more comfortable all around, specifically with a chance to steal more bases.

UPTON UPDATE: Fatigue and stiffness has already delayed 2B/CF B.J. Upton's return from a left quad strain a few days, and now a fever may push it until after the All-Star break.

Upton was scratched from Tuesday's scheduled rehab game at Triple-A Durham because he was sick and may be held out again today as a precaution against dehydration.

As a result, his chances of rejoining the Rays before Sunday's final pre-All Star break game seem greatly reduced. "It's pretty much putting the kibosh on it, " Maddon said.

SALAS REPORT: Having served his 50-game performance-enhancing drugs suspension, RH reliever Juan Salas was reinstated from the restricted list Tuesday and optioned to Durham where, Maddon said, he will have to pitch his way back to the big leagues. (He earned a win Tuesday with a perfect eighth inning.)

And when he gets there, he might want to apologize to his teammates.

"That's a tough one, " Maddon said. "That's an individual situation. Obviously it did impact us in a negative way. For me, I think I'd want to address people separately, let them know how I feel and that I know it was wrong."

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rays shifted RHP Tim Corcoran (right elbow strain) from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list, postponing his return until Aug. 9.

MISCELLANY: The Rays are 2-14 at Fenway since July 19, 2005. ... Maddon abandoned the radical shift against David Ortiz, saying the slugger changed his patterns and was hitting more to leftfield. ... Boston SS Julio Lugo's 0-for-33 skid was the longest of his career. ... Principal owner Stuart Sternberg came up from New York for the game. ... Class A Vero has lost 10 straight. ... Chad Orvella pitched his 11th scoreless inning Tuesday and got his seventh save since returning to Durham.