Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Devil Ray has his day in Houston

Left fielder Crawford honored by hometown

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

HOUSTON - Roger Clemens wasn't the only All-Star playing before a hometown crowd Tuesday.

Devil Rays left fielder Carl Crawford grew up in the Fifth Ward, a predominantly African-American neighborhood located near Minute Maid Park.

"It's always fun to come back home," Crawford said. "There's never a dull moment."

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Devil Ray has his day in Houston

The 22-year-old led the American League with 55 stolen bases last season and batted .304 with four home runs and 34 RBI in the first half of this season.

This was the first All-Star selection for Crawford, Tampa Bay's only representative this year.

"It's like when you first started playing. It's something new," Crawford said. "I never did this before so, yeah, it brings the kid out of you a little bit."

And it brought out the supporters in bunches.

Crawford set aside 20 tickets to Tuesday's game for family and friends. Earlier in the day, he attended a ceremony at City Hall during which Houston mayor Bill White proclaimed Tuesday as "Carl Crawford Day."

"We had a good time," Crawford said. "He acted like he (knew about baseball), but I didn't ask him."

SELIG SPEAKS TO FANS: Commissioner Bud Selig conducted an online chat Tuesday.

Questions ranged from Pete Rose's reinstatement bid to the Expos' future whereabouts.

Selig said little about Rose's status.

"I said back in January there was no timetable," he said. "I think any other comment from me, because I am the judge, would be inappropriate and unfair to all parties."

Regarding the Expos, Selig said the team would have a new home and a new owner by the end of this summer.

HAVING SOME FUN: The topic at Mike Piazza's clubhouse locker Tuesday afternoon was, of course, Clemens.

After answering a series of questions, the Mets catcher was interrupted when a 6-foot-10 teammate reached over a group of reporters and playfully introduced himself.

"Hi, I'm Randy Johnson. We might be working together sometime. I mean today."

Johnson was clearly kidding in light of the well-publicized rumors regarding his potential trade status.

SPEAKING OF: With eight Yankees at the All-Star Game, including American League manager Joe Torre, there were plenty of potential Johnson recruiters in pinstripes.

The Diamondbacks left-hander expressed Monday he would be open to moving to a serious contender.

"If he has questions about New York, then I'll answer those questions," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "It's kind of a tough situation because we've been successful with the guys we have. If we add someone, you've got to lose someone.

"There's always ifs in New York. There's always rumors in New York."

PREGAME MESSAGE: National League manager Jack McKeon's pregame message to his team was relatively straightforward.

"I told them that I was very proud of all the guys selected," McKeon said. "There was a lot of talent in that room. I wanted them to enjoy the moment, but I also wanted them to realize that they were here to win this game."

GONE WEST: Former Reds general manager Jim Bowden was at Tuesday's game but was working for the ESPN2 morning show Cold Pizza.

Bowden, who lives in Los Angeles and makes regular appearances on the show, declined an opportunity to speak about his firing July 28, 2003.

ODDS AND ENDS: Reds center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. was not in attendance Tuesday. He left Houston before the Home Run Derby was completed Monday evening. ... An announcement regarding the host of the 2006 All-Star Game is expected soon. St. Louis, which is building a new stadium for the Cardinals, is considered the frontrunner. ... Boxing legend Muhammad Ali made an on-field appearance before the game. ... American Idol winner Fantasia performed the National Anthem. Ruben Studdard, another American Idol winner, sang "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch.

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