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02/26/09 4:35 PM EST

To Maddon, Crawford ideal for No. 2

After auditioning at six-hole, outfielder returns to batting second

TAMPA, Fla. -- Rays left fielder Carl Crawford made the trip to Tampa on Thursday and found himself batting second for the second time in as many days.

Batting second is nothing new for Crawford, but it is different from where he hit during the 2008 postseason, when he batted sixth upon returning from an injury to his right hand.

"We're looking to bring Carl back to the two-hole," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Having him there presents an entirely different perspective on how we're going to juggle this thing along."

Maddon explained his rationale for batting Crawford second after hitting him sixth in October.

"I did [bat him sixth in the postseason]," Maddon said. "We have a new addition to the lineup. And B.J. [Upton] was doing so well. I did not want to mess with that at the time. And also, I've always believed this about Carl -- Carl's a good RBI man. With two outs, Carl doesn't hit a lot of fly balls. Carl's more of a line-drive guy. My theory is, with two outs and runners in scoring position, stay out of the air.

"Fly balls are normally outs. Line drives and ground balls are where your batting average comes from. So with two outs, to maximize your chances of driving in a run, I prefer seeing a line drive or a ground ball. That's the kind of hitter he is."

Crawford likes hitting second.

"I'll hit wherever he wants me to hit," Crawford said, noting that he did not think he would be as much of a help to the Rays hitting sixth. "I like to hit second. Wherever I'll be most effective, I'll do my thing there. I'm more comfortable hitting at the top of the order because of the things I can do."

Maddon likes what he has seen out of Crawford thus far this Grapefruit League season.

"He's really motivated, very directed," Maddon said. "You can see he's still feeling the residue of last season. He loved it, and he wants to get back there. He's been an absolute joy, and he's in great shape. I loved the line drive to left field [on Wednesday against the Reds]. He looks great."

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