March 11, 2011RATTO ARCHIVE
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Coco Crisp started the spring slowly . . . well, pun intended.And while his DUI is still being adjudicated, he is doing what he can to keep it compartmentalized, by owning spring training.
REWIND: A's Crisp arrested on suspicion of DUI
He homered as the high point of a three-hit day in the As 9-2 win over the Dodgers at Phoenix Municipal, and is now 11-for-23 this March. And to the extent that one has something to do with the other, Crisp acknowledges that the ballpark serves as a nice way to shut out the outside world.I just find that when Im here, it clears my mind, the As starting center fielder said. Just a little sanctuary to separate me from the outside world is an easy thing for me.The off-the-field stuff is what Im trying to deal with now, but coming to the park is good for me.
RELATED: Crisp homers in A's split squad win over Dodgers
Crisp isnt trying to minimize the charge so much as to explain why he is hitting .478 and looking like the player the As hoped would stay healthy all last year. He didnt, of course, breaking a finger and missing more than half the season, thereby becoming just one more Elephant who has to prove in this season of heightened expectations that he can meet his own.And while he says he is typically a good spring hitter, he acknowledges that this is a bit better than the norm.I guess its good, he said when asked facetiously if he liked the way he has begun the Cactus League. Im definitely seeing the ball better, thats the biggest thing. But Im trying to keep everything simple and not do too much. I just figure if I do that, I can help this team be special this year.And in doing so, he is doing plenty, at least so far. His workload is likely to be cut back a bit, as manager Bob Geren figures hell be good with about 50 some-odd at-bats, but he already has nearly half that, and his on-base percentage of .565 would make Billy Beane speak in tongues.Crisp was the highlight on a day of them -- Gio Gonzalez gave up his first earned run of the spring but threw another exemplary 4 13 innings and looks like he might very well be the 1A in the teams starting rotation.Hideki Matsui, on the other hand, went 0-for-4, and his spring average of .048 would be a concern if he didnt have so many other more important things on his mind. He, too, will get a bit more time off, though Geren said he has not looked late or overwhelmed at the plate. Hes going to be fine, Geren said, chanting his usual mantra.
RELATED: Matsui issues statement, A's plan tsunami relief
The As lost their B-game in Maryvale to the Brewers, 4-3, with the noteworthy event being Josh Outmans struggle, giving up seven hits and all four Milwaukee runs in his three innings of work. Tyson Ross looked sharp as the starter, but Outman may be slowly working himself out of the fifth starter argument. Its still early to make such judgments, but at some point judgments will have to be made.And nobody knows that more than Coco Crisp, who needs nothing more than to make his good times at the park more directly reflect his off-field issue. Once thats done, he might just be able to be that special player for that special team he says he wants to be.What'syour take? Email Rayand let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.