Carl Crawford thought Francona didn’t have his back, likes Bobby Valentine just fine

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Some have reported that Bobby Valentine has lost the Red Sox clubhouse.  He hasn’t lost Carl Crawford, however.

In an interview with WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Carwford first suggests that his struggles last year had something to do with Terry Francona:

“I didn’t feel like I had the manager’s confidence. I don’t know about the organization, but I don’t try and look past the manager so I feel like I didn’t have the manager’s confidence therefore I started to think something was wrong with me, and it just snowballed after that. It had a trickle-down effect, and it just got worse and worse as the days went by.”

His beef is that Francona dropped him in the lineup after only two games last year.  But, despite some stuff in the offseason in which Crawford was reported to not have returned Valentine’s calls, he’s just fine with Bobby V now:

I know a lot of people might have problems with him, but for me I just haven’t had those problems. It’s fine with me. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but as of right now me and Bobby get along just fine … I have to say that the support system has been really good for me, Bobby, and the training staff has been wonderful … The communication with me and Bobby, coming into the season that’s what I was worried about. It’s been the opposite. You can’t do anything but have high praise for what has been going on.”

If form holds, there will be a story in the Globe next week about how everyone hates Crawford now because he likes Bobby. Because, based on the coverage we read anyway, the Red Sox are basically a high school home room placed in the major leagues.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.