Crawford treats Rays' front office to barbecue

Crawford treats Rays' front office to barbecue

ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford remembered the Rays on Wednesday afternoon with a special treat at lunch.

The former Rays left fielder, who recently signed a seven-year, $142-million contract with the Red Sox, set up a barbecue luncheon at Tropicana Field for approximately 150 members of Tampa Bay's front-office staff.

Crawford was not in attendance, but the food was well received. Said Jonathan Gantt of the Rays' public relations staff: "It was delicious, I can tell you that."

Crawford signed with the Rays after being drafted by the team out of Houston's Jefferson Davis High School in the second round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. In nine seasons with the team, he hit .296 with 104 home runs, 592 RBIs and he stole 409 bases.

Earlier this month, Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics spoke about how close the organization gets to players like Crawford, who grew from high school to the Major Leagues under its watchful eye.

"We really get attached in scouting and development to these kids," Lukevics said. "We spend a lot of time on the field, day-in and day-out. And when you lose them, it's hard."

Obviously, to Crawford, the warm feelings were mutual.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.