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05/23/08 7:23 PM ET

Crawford, Rays pleased with SI cover

Outfielder, team depicted in superhero light in magazine

ST. PETERSBURG -- Check out your local newsstands to see the May 26 issue of Sports Illustrated featuring on the cover a cartoon depiction of Carl Crawford holding Derek Jeter in the air with one arm while DC Comics character Bizarro observes and scratches his head.

The title reads "Bizarro Baseball! Featuring the Mighty Rays! The Last-Place Yankees! And Other Mysteries of the '08 Season!"

"I didn't know I had that much muscle," Crawford said with a smile.

Now that he's a superhero, Crawford was asked about what superheroes he liked as a kid.

"The normal ones," Crawford said. "Superman, Batman, He-Man, those kinds of guys, Thundercats, the normal ones."

But can Crawford, superhero left fielder, take on Iron Man, this summer's superhero at the movies?

"I'll leave Iron Man alone for right now," Crawford said.

The thing Rays players liked most about the cover was being depicted in a positive light.

"Something positive about the [Rays]," Crawford said. "Who'd have thought the day would ever come when we'd get something positive like that on the cover of Sports Illustrated? ... It's a compliment to the team doing good."

Rays closer Troy Percival called the cover "a sign of the times."

"We're getting a little recognition for the way we're playing the game," Percival said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon called the cover "interesting."

"It's an honor to be on the cover, and hopefully it's just the first of several to come in the future," Maddon said. "It just indicates to me we're moving this thing in the right direction.

"[Crawford's] biceps and triceps were looking a little sturdy in that particular drawing. It is what it is. I'm just happy that we've drawn enough attention and we're playing well enough to be considered [to be on the cover]. ... I consider that an honor. The fact we've been playing well enough to be considered, I think that's a good thing.

"For me personally, it's just an indication we're moving this thing right, and we just have to keep our heads screwed on properly and continue to move this thing along. Because the moment you think you've got something licked, you're going to get bit very quickly."

Sports Illustrated has sent 5,000 copies of this week's "Bizarro Baseball" cover to be handed out before Sunday's series finale with the Orioles at Tropicana Field.

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