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Video: Interview with Trevor Crowe
Audio: Crowe on playing the outfield
It's the time of year when promises are made in hopes that the coming New Year will bring better times. Trevor Crowe, however, didn't wait until the end of the calendar year to make a commitment to himself.
Crowe, Cleveland's first-round pick in 2005, decided at the end of June that it was time to reevaluate his priorities. So rather than write off his entire season, he put together a strong second half and laid a solid foundation for 2008.
That's not to say his journey over the last six months hasn't been without its trials and tribulations. Crowe, who spent the season at Double-A Akron, had a health scare during the Arizona Fall League campaign. Having dealt with that, the scrappy outfielder has developed a better outlook as his career heads into what could prove to be a critical season.
"This was a year that was a real learning experience, and in the end I learned to play one day at a time and that's what I'm going to do," said Crowe, whose approach to the game in recent months is not nearly clichéd as it sounds. "I don't think I'm over-simplifying things, either. People sometimes get so immersed in their overall goal that they forget how to get there. And my concentration was solely on being part of the Cleveland Indians in '07 instead of being as productive as I could be every day.
"About halfway through the season, I realized that I just needed to start getting better every day. It's hard for me to concentrate when I know I'm not at the top or peak of something. When you're at Double-A, there are still two more levels and I was thinking about being in Triple-A or the big leagues."
Crowe was hitting .192 on June 25 when he embarked on a 14-game hitting streak, including a four-hit game in Binghamton. The streak launched a second half that saw him hit .325, lifting his overall average to a respectable .259.
Cleveland assistant general manager John Mirabelli said what Crowe went through during the first half of the season wasn't unusual. He had spent almost the entire spring with the parent club before getting sent to Akron, a quick shot down Interstate 77 from Cleveland.
"Some of the guys who go to Akron, with the proximity to Cleveland and the media, they're thinking that they're not only close geographically but developmentally, as well, and the two kind of blend together," Mirabelli said. "We have a number of kids that put that kind of pressure on themselves and lose track of what they should be focusing on, and that's being in Double-A. We kind of feel that got rectified in the second half of the year and carried over to the AFL.
"When he's at the top of his game, he plays with an edge, an edge that some people across the field don't like but we love it. I think he lost a bit of that edge when he went through that streak in the first half. There was the chance that he could probably smell and taste it [life in Cleveland] just a bit. It's not the first kid it happened to. It just lasted a little longer than we would have liked it to last."
Crowe continued his hot second half in the AFL, hitting .289 in 38 at-bats before leaving the developmental circuit at the end of October to have a cyst removed from beneath his right pectoral muscle. The cyst had been bothering him for about a year and was growing.
There were worries that he might have breast cancer, a rarity in men, but that proved not to be the case. After taking a few weeks off to recover from the surgery, Crowe resumed workouts earlier this month in Arizona.
"I never really got wrapped up in things like that [cancer]," he said. "I wasn't really concerned. It was mentioned but if you look at the percentage of males my age that get cancer from that issue, it's very small.
"I noticed it last year and was going to have it [surgery] done then when I saw the doctor in late November. But I didn't want to have it done then because if something went wrong with my recovery, it could have affected my being ready for Spring Training. The recovery process went very well, though. I'll be 100 percent for Spring Training after getting in 10 solid weeks of work."
There will be no New Year's resolutions from Crowe as he continues working toward 2008. He made a pact with himself six months ago, so he says he won't be worrying about being in Triple-A Buffalo or Cleveland, leaving that decision to folks like Mirabelli, who is more than a little happy about Crowe's epiphany.
Kevin T. Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.