Carl Crawford “creeped out” by the Red Sox

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Last week general manager Theo Epstein revealed that the Red Sox had scouts tracking Carl Crawford on and off the field last season in preparation for potentially signing him as a free agent, saying it was “as if we were privately investigating him.”

That was apparently news to Crawford, who told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday that he was “creeped out a little bit” and “a little freaked out” to learn of the Red Sox’s surveillance, calling it “a little weird.”

Here’s more from Crawford:

I didn’t say nothing, but I’m from an area where if somebody’s doing that to you, they’re not doing anything good. I get paranoid when I hear those kind of stories, so I definitely take a different approach when I do things now. It did have an effect on me, let me put it that way. I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before.

Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn’t comfortable with that at all. I don’t know how they do it, how much distance they keep from you when they watch you the whole time. I definitely check my back now, at least 100 yard radius. I’m always looking over my shoulder now. Now I look before I go in my house. I’d better not see anything suspicious now.

Crawford’s reaction has predictably led to Epstein backtracking a bit from his original statements, beginning with saying that the “as if we were privately investigating him” line was “a bad figure of speech.” Here’s more from Epstein:

Our scouts just did a real thorough job on background, that’s all. Felt like we got to know him real well, that’s all. I told him we got to know him real well and we really respected the decisions he made, even away from the park. We told him we trusted him with a long-term contract because of his work ethic and his decision-making, so we’d be involved in the bidding.

Epstein also indicated that the Red Sox have previously followed other potential free agent targets in a similar manner, which probably has quite a few star players feeling “creeped out” today. Ultimately a $142 million contract can smooth over a lot of “weird” feelings and Crawford did tell Edes he understands “that’s what they have to do when they’re making that kind of investment.” Still, this is an awfully strange way for a seven-year relationship to begin. After all, you don’t often hear about a stalker actually marrying a stalkee.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.