CLEVELAND - Indians rookie outfielder Trevor Crowe couldn't contain the grin that kept creasing his face as he took a few minutes before Sunday's game to share his thoughts of his time so far in the big leagues.
"I'm still extremely excited about being here every morning when I wake up," admitted Crowe, the Tribe's first-round pick (14th overall) in the 2005 draft out of the University of Arizona. "I'm finally at the point where it's all about winning."
Initially on the fast track to the big leagues, Crowe was slowed by a hanful of injuries the last few years via a lower back strain and a few oblique strains. A spark plug on the base paths, Crowe struggled to overcome a failed experiment to convert to a second baseman in 2007, finishing the season batting a disappointing .259.
But once he overcame the most recent oblique strain last year, the switch-hitter was back to his old self, combining to bat .302 between Double-A Akron and Triple-A Buffalo.
An outstanding spring training this season caught the eye of the Tribe brass. As soon as the injury-prone David Dellucci was sidelined with a hamstring injury towards the end of camp, Crowe was recalled and made his major-league debut April 9th versus Texas.
Crowe admitted hearing the words that he'd made the Indians Opening Day roster is something he'll never forget.
"Even in spring training when they told me I'd made the team, it was like playing with a weight off my shoulders," he said. "Because there's no destination disease. You're not trying to get to the big leagues anymore. You can just go out and be yourself."
However, how long he stays with the big league club is still up in the air.
"I'm just trying to focus on today," Crowe said. "I figure if I can help the team win, it'll extend my time automatically."
Unfortunately, Crowe's new team is off to a miserable 0-5 start. And with the opportunity to make his mark with the bases loaded in the third inning Sunday, he struck out for the second time in the game. Angry at himself, he snapped his bat in two over his knee as he turned and headed toward the dugout.
But when he got the same bases-loaded shot in the fifth, Crowe delivered a two-run double to right center field that scored Jhonny Peralta and Shin-Soo Choo and extended the Indians lead to 5-1 over visiting Toronto.
Despite the Tribe's early struggles, Crowe has been impressed with the way everyone around him is handling unnerving situation.
"One thing I've really been impressed with is (manager Eric) Wedge's poise," Crowe said. "There's no panic whatsoever. He talks about 'the process' all the time. And by his demeanor, you can see he believes it. Even though we're sitting here 0-5, he's coming in a with a good atittude. There's no panic, just a lot of poise."
While Crowe says most of baseball is the same whether in the major or minor leagues, there's subtle differences.
"The No.1 thing I'm realizing that's different in the big league is how hard all these guys work on a day-to-day basis," he said. "The effort level and the will to win up here is so tangible, you can see it."