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Crawford shares how Cardinals life suits him after Giants exit

In Sports
April 16, 2024

Crawford shares how Cardinals life suits him after Giants exit originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

OAKLAND — As Brandon Crawford’s Giants tenure officially came to an end, he informed Logan Webb it finally was time for him to take over as clubhouse DJ. But Crawford hasn’t hung up the Spotify playlist quite yet.

After 13 seasons in Giants orange and black, Crawford now wears St. Louis Cardinals red. It took some getting used to for Crawford, who for the first time in his big-league life is a backup shortstop, but it didn’t take too many games for the old playlist to come out. His new teammates asked early on about his passion for music.

“It actually didn’t take very long,” he told NBC Sports Bay Area. “I think there wasn’t a lot of music being played in the clubhouse here, so it was a pretty easy thing for me to grab onto and take over.”

So, while Crawford’s postgame role hasn’t changed, his view for nine innings now is very different, and not just because he calls Busch Stadium, not Oracle Park, home. Crawford is the backup to 22-year-old Masyn Winn, the shortstop of the present and future in St. Louis.

It’s a position Crawford readily signed up for after the Giants declined to bring him back to mentor young Giants in a reduced role, but it has been an adjustment. On Sunday night, Crawford arrived back in the Bay Area for a series against the Oakland A’s, and on Monday afternoon, he was one of the first Cardinals on the Coliseum field, taking grounders and working on his footwork well before the start of batting practice.

That’s always been a passion for Crawford, but now it’s also a necessity. He has just 13 plate appearances through the Cardinals’ first 16 games. The Cardinals don’t mix and match as much as the Giants did in Crawford’s final years, so finding new ways to stay sharp is vital.

“I’m trying to do as much on-field stuff as I can,” he said. “I know in the past, especially as I’ve gotten older, I would definitely take BP on the first day of a series or something like that, and take my groundballs and do all that kind of stuff, but then I would just save my legs for the most part. The rest of the series, I would hit in the cage or [use] the little red machine for my groundball work.

“Now it’s getting on the field as much as I can. It’s just to keep my legs under me and make sure my footwork is good. I’m trying to make batting practice more game-like than maybe I have in the past.”

This always was going to be the deal in a new home. But Crawford, now 37, wasn’t ready to hang it up after 13 seasons and 1,654 games for his hometown team. He seemed to have the perfect career — more than 13,000 innings as the Giants shortstop and one as a pitcher — but he still felt a pull in the offseason.

“A lot of it was [because] my kids wanted me to play,” he said. “But it just felt a little bit incomplete, I think, the last few years, performance-wise and being hurt and on the IL four times last year. It just didn’t feel like a great way of going out.

“It was definitely kind of up in the air during the offseason, and we were checking out interest from teams all offseason. The Cardinals kind of came in late, and I thought it was the right fit for what I wanted to do as kind of a mentor-type to a young shortstop [on] a team that has a real chance of winning with some great players.”

Crawford signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cardinals at the end of February. They’re always a team that expects to contend, which was part of the appeal, and they also have a roster full of players Crawford has seen often from the other side, such as Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt and Lance Lynn. There was comfort in that, although Crawford admitted that during the spring, he’d see pictures of himself in a new jersey and think it was photoshopped.

It’s been nearly two months, and normalcy is kicking in now. The Cardinals visited the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend, so Crawford spent some time at home, and during this series, his parents will visit from the East Bay, as they so often did during his 13 years in San Francisco.

The Cardinals don’t visit Oracle Park until the end of September, but Crawford will see old Giants teammates when the teams square off in Birmingham, Ala., in late June for a game celebrating Willie Mays. That series will continue over the weekend in St. Louis, where Crawford will catch up with plenty of old friends.

As he returned to the Bay, Crawford said he’s still following the Giants and keeps in touch with former teammates such as Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Webb, who’s now the clubhouse leader and DJ.

“He had a high standard to keep up to, I think,” Crawford said, smiling.

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