Some people will say Carl Crawford never understood the expectations of playing in Boston.
Others will say he understood the expectations far too well.
Crawford, who was finally introduced as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday after spending much of the time after his August trade from the Red Sox recovering from Tommy John surgery, said his injury-marred poor performances in Boston were due to him feeling he had to play hurt.
"You felt the pressure from the outside to have to play in that atmosphere," he said, according to ESPNBoston.com. "If you don't play, it's like you're soft or somebody who's just trying to take money from them or something like that. I wanted to prove that that wasn't the case."
Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox in 2011 and stumbled out of the gate, hitting just .255 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs in his first year. That, and his 18 stolen bases, were all career-lows for a full season, and Crawford got heavy criticism for his lack of production.
The following winter, Crawford developed problems with his wrist, but he waited to get surgery and was delayed coming into spring training. Complications from that injury led to him hurting his elbow, and Crawford didn't take the field for Boston until July 16 this year. Even then, he wasn't fully healed, and while he tried to play through the elbow problem, the Red Sox' poor record and Crawford's limited production eventually led to him having Tommy John surgery weeks later. That surgery, which ended Crawford's season after 31 games, came just days before general manager Ben Cherington pulled off the huge trade that sent Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto to Los Angeles.
"I tried to push it a little bit," Crawford said of playing through the elbow injury. "With the Boston fans, you've got to try. A big deal was made about my money and stuff, so I tried to prove it and play for the team. Maybe I shouldn't have done that. I should have taken care of myself when the doctor told me to."
Crawford compiled just three home runs and five stolen bases on a .282 average in his 31 games in 2012 -- a poor follow-up to a bad 2011, and far cry from the perennial-All-Star-caliber play that had been expected when he was picked up as Boston's left fielder of the future.
"Me being stubborn like that probably cost me a little time the next year," Crawford said.
"A little time" may be an understatement. The wrist -- and Crawford trying to rush back during recovery -- led to the longer layoff with elbow problems. Crawford's elbow was so bad last summer that he reportedly couldn't throw the ball in from left field, needing a cutoff man for the basics of his position. While batting was not as difficult, there were questions of whether putting off fixing the wrist and elbow injuries could have damaged Crawford long-term.
That's a question for the Dodgers now, as Crawford will look to fulfill expectations on the opposite coast.
But while many misunderstandings marked Crawford's time in Boston, Red Sox fans can know this: Crawford knew what was expected of him. Letting those expectations control how he handled his health and playing time, however, looks to be what kept Crawford from ever being able to fulfill the lofty hopes.
Click here to see the Wellesley home Crawford is leaving behind>>