Slumping Carl Crawford benched for today’s game

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Carl Crawford is on the bench for today’s game against the Blue Jays, one day after going 0-for-5 and seeing his batting average dip to .137 (7-for-51) to begin the season.

Crawford heard plenty of boos from the Fenway Park crowd after striking out on three pitches against Jon Rauch in the ninth inning last night, but tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he understands their frustration.

“They have to boo. I’m playing real bad — and we’re playing real bad as a team,” said Crawford. “You definitely understand. You can’t be upset about that. You feel their frustration a little bit. We’re frustrated, too.”

As Speier notes, among the 207 hitters who currently qualify for the batting title, Crawford ranks 202nd in batting average, 205th in OBP (.185) and 206th in OPS. Granted, we’re talking about a really small sample size here, but yikes. The Red Sox are batting just .224 as a team and have scored only 46 runs, so it’s pretty easy to see why they’re 2-10 right now.

Crawford is obviously better than what he’s shown until now, but it’s not uncommon for a player to struggle after signing a big money contract. To name two recent notable examples, Mark Teixeira batted .200 in April after signing with the Yankees while Carlos Beltran’s offensive numbers were merely pedestrian in his first season with the Mets in 2005. Of course, they both eventually turned things around in their new digs, so there’s plenty of reason to believe this is just an ill-timed speed bump for Crawford.