SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Brandon Crawford is ready to move on. He is ready to stop talking about Carlos Correa. He’s ready to get back to doing what he’s always dreamed of doing, making another shortstop for the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day for the 12th straight season.
“Does it really matter right now? Honestly, right now he’s in Minnesota and I’m here,” Crawford said Monday after the Giants completed their first full run of spring training. “It’s been a weird off-season, a bit of ups and downs, but in the end he’s back with the Twins and I’m still here.”
Of all the players who brought three World Series titles to San Francisco between 2010 and 2014, only Crawford remains.
Brandon Belt’s departure this offseason left Crawford as the last remaining belt with that era.
“That is of course very different from other years,” he said. “At the same time, that’s baseball. Whether it’s retirement or guys getting traded or leaving for free service, that’s how baseball works. Eventually there will be one man standing at the end.
And here he is, at age 36, still standing, just as he expects to be on the sand between second and third base on March 30 at Yankee Stadium. In the club’s history, only Willie Mays and Barry Bonds will have made so many consecutive Opening Day starts in one position. It is where he has played all his 1,525 games in the field.
#SFGiants count on recovery seasons from Brandon Crawford and LaMonte Wade Jr.
📹 Here they thank some cuts on the first day of camp: pic.twitter.com/TZJvE6RBUO
— Evan Webeck (@EvanWebeck) February 20, 2023
36 years. 12 seasons. 1,525 games.
Large numbers that ensure that Crawford’s legacy will not soon be forgotten at 1 Willie Mays Plaza. But numbers that nevertheless reflect the reality of this season.
Crawford was on the injured list for the first time in his career last season. Despite intentions to manage his load in a way that they successfully did with him and Buster Posey in 2021, Crawford struggled with health issues throughout the year. Keeping him on the field – and feeling good – is an even bigger focus this year, after San Francisco failed to acquire additional depth in the center of the field.
As currently constructed, the Giants will play musical chairs in addition to shortstop on Crawford’s rest days. Their starting second baseman (Thairo Estrada) will be their backup shortstop, and his backup at second base will be their starting third baseman (David Villar), a position where they have at least some depth (Wilmer Flores , J. D. Davis). At Triple-A, depth is counted on Isan Díaz, Brett Wisely and Donovan Walton.
That’s none of Crawford’s business.
First, he believes in the downstream effects of adding two daily corner outfielders (“I don’t think we need to see Thairo in left field much, or anything like that”). And secondly, this has been a different kind of off-season, for more reasons than the “weird”.
When MLB players were locked out of the season and unable to access team facilities or communicate with staff, Crawford felt he was particularly affected. Not being able to train with Giants coaches, he said, “played an important role at least early in the season last year.”
This off-season, Crawford said he had an early start. He had already started his offseason program at the end of October, about two weeks before he normally starts his training regimen again. He was in the Giants’ facilities at least three days a week, he said, and more recently it was more than four days a week.
“It was definitely more of a drag physically last year,” said Crawford. “I feel like I’m not getting any younger, so it was probably smart to come back a week or two earlier than usual and just get the body moving again. … I think it will have a huge impact.”
Crawford, the team believes, will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.
However, it won’t be related to the Correa saga, Crawford said. He is more concerned about his uncertain future after this year. It is the final year of the two-year extension he signed after the 2021 season, and he said he is “thinking” about his future after this year.
“I would really like to end my career as a Giant. I was called up by the Giants, but before that I cheered the Giants from the stands as a Giants fan growing up. I would like the Giants to be the only team are what I play for,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.”
… Logan Webb calls for a culture change in the clubhouse: “Yes, I still need to talk to him about that. I wonder what he means by that. I feel like we’ve always had a pretty good culture in the clubhouse, so I’m still trying to understand what he’s talking about. I think what he’s talking about might be a shift to a winning mentality.”
… what went wrong as a team last season: “Complacent is a good word. I feel there can be some complacency at times, or maybe too concerned about what you’re doing from an individual point of view. … It was obviously a tougher year for me last year, just between my play on the field and the injury and things like that. So there were times when I was probably a little too focused on what I was doing and not trying to lead like I usually do, which is playing on the field and being out every day.
…Brandon Belt leaves for Toronto: “Obviously I wanted him here, but I’m also happy that he seems happy with his situation with the Blue Jays. It sounds like he’ll do a lot of DH and occasionally play first, which I think is good for will be him and his knee will stay healthy. I think we’ve all seen what he can do when he’s healthy.”
… Sean Manaea Gives Him Contest for Best Hair in the Clubhouse: “He has really good hair. I told him that the other day. It’s very different from mine though. I feel like it’s apples and oranges. I don’t think I’ve ever said I have the best hair. Plus I just had mine cut, so it’s a little shorter now.