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Crawford is working hard to prove he can play in Boston, but doubts persist


PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- One player who religiously arrives in Red Sox camp before noted early-rising manager Bobby Valentine, and that is Carl Crawford, who won't even be ready for Opening Day. Crawford is a hard worker anyway, but he is apparently determined to show folks that his first year in Boston was an aberation.

"He's too good not to turn it around,'' said one National league scout who's followed Crawford's whole career.

But even that scout, a forever fan of Crawford, added this nugget, "He was shaking at his (first) Boston press conference.''

The doubts linger about Crawford, not whether he can play but whether he can play in Boston. Soon after signing that $142-million, seven-year contract, he looked unlike the player who starred in Tampa for years. He finished his first year in Boston with a .255 batting average and a .694 OPS, unbecoming numbers for anyone, much less a marquee free agent with a nine-figure deal.

Upon arriving in spring training a few weeks ago he curiously declared that he intended to be ready to play Opening Day. No one thought that was realistic at the time, and he has since had a setback with his wrist injury, insuring that he will not be ready. He must just be a bit overanxious.

Back at that first press conference, Crawford talked about how he wanted to go to Boston. You know, the usual stuff folks say at press conference. But just about everyone around baseball suspected that Los Angeles of Anaheim and Texas were his first two choices.

A naturally nice man, Crawford he seems to aim to please. Some people with the Rays say now that they knew Boston wasn't the right place for Crawford.

He seems anxious to prove Boston isn't wrong for him. Wonder if he is a little too anxious.

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