Brandon Crawford ready to put Correa saga behind him, move forward as SF Giants shortstop

Brandon Crawford ready to put Correa saga behind him, move forward as SF Giants shortstop

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Brandon Crawford is ready to move on. He’s ready to stop talking about Carlos Correa. He’s ready to resume doing what he always dreamed of, and suit up at shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, again, on Opening Day for the 12th straight season.

“At this point, does it really matter? Honestly, at this point, he’s in Minnesota and I’m here,” Crawford said Monday, after the Giants finished their first full-squad workout of spring training. “It was a weird offseason, kind of up and down, but in the end, he’s back with the Twins, and I’m still here.”

Still here is something only Crawford can say out of all the players who helped bring three World Series titles to San Francisco.

After Brandon Belt’s departure this offseason, Crawford is the last remaining tie to that era.

“That’s obviously a lot different than in other years,” he said. “At the same time, that’s baseball. Whether it’s retirement or guys getting traded or leaving in free agency, that’s how baseball works. Eventually there’s going to be one guy standing at the end.”

And here he is, at 36 years old, still standing, just as he expects to be on the dirt between second and third base at Yankee Stadium on March 30. In the club’s history, only Willie Mays and Barry Bonds will have made as many consecutive Opening Day starts at one position. It’s where he has played all of his 1,525 games in the field.

36 years. 12 seasons. 1,525 games.

Big numbers that ensure Crawford’s legacy won’t soon be forgotten at One Willie Mays Plaza. But numbers nonetheless that lay out the reality of this season.

For the first time in his career, Crawford spent extended time on the injured list last season. Despite intentions to manage his load in a way that they successfully did with him and Buster Posey in 2021, Crawford battled health issues all year. Keeping him on the field — and feeling good — is an even larger focus this year, after San Francisco failed to acquire any additional middle infield depth.

As currently constructed, the Giants will be playing musical chairs to backfill at 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 do at least have some depth (Wilmer Flores, J.D. Davis). At Triple-A, Isan Díaz, Brett Wisely and Donovan Walton will be counted on for depth.

That doesn’t concern Crawford.

First, he believes in the downstream effects of adding two everyday corner outfielders (“I don’t think we’re going to need to see Thairo a whole lot in left field, or stuff like that”). And secondly, this has been a different kind of offseason, for more reasons than the “weird” ones.

When MLB players were locked out and unable to access team facilities or communicate with staff last offseason, Crawford felt like he was particularly impacted. Not being able to train with Giants coaches, he said, “played a significant role at least in the beginning of the season last year.”

This offseason, Crawford said he got an early start. By the end of October, he had already begun his offseason program, about two weeks earlier than he normally restarts his training regimen. He was at the Giants facilities at least three days a week, he said, and more recently, it has been more like four days each week.

“it was definitely more of a grind last year physically,” Crawford said. “I feel like I’m not getting any younger, so it was probably smart to come back in a week or two earlier than I usually do and just get the body moving again. … I think it’ll have a huge impact.”

Crawford, the team believes, is going to play with a chip on his shoulder.

It won’t have to do with the Correa saga, though, Crawford said. He is more concerned about his uncertain future after this year. It is the final year of his two-year extension he signed after the 2021 season, and he said he is “contemplating” his future after this year.

“I would love to end my career as a Giant. I was drafted by the Giants, but before that cheered on the Giants from the stands being a Giants fan growing up. I would love for the Giants to be the only team that I play for,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens.”

Crawford on …

… Logan Webb calling for a culture change in the clubhouse: “Yeah, I still have to talk to him about that. I’m curious about 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 figure out what he’s talking about. I think what he’s talking about is maybe like a shift back into a winning mentality.”


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