Crawford thanks Rays fans with half-page newspaper ad

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The act has become a little too predictable — and maybe even expected — but it’s still pretty cool.

Carl Crawford took out a half-page ad in the Sunday edition of the St. Petersburg Times to thank Rays fans and the Tampa Bay community for their “support over the years.”

Crawford also bought lunch for the 150-member staff at Tropicana Field a couple of weeks ago.

The do-everything outfielder inked a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Red Sox in early December and is looking to make nice before bolting out of town for a division rival.

He was thanked by the readers and writers at DRaysBay earlier this winter with a full-page ad in the Tampa Bay Times.  All is well, at least until Crawford hits a bases-loaded triple to capture the American League East crown for the Red Sox somewhere around early October of this new year.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.