Back with Giants, Crawford looks back on WBC experience

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Brandon Crawford was in high demand Saturday morning from the moment he arrived inside the San Francisco Giants' spring training clubhouse.

Several media types wanted to talk to the Giants' shortstop about the World Baseball Classic, where Crawford helped Team USA capture the title earlier in the week. Crawford was back in Giants camp by Friday, two days after the championship game against Puerto Rico - and back in the lineup Friday and Saturday at spring training.

Crawford hit .385 in 26 at-bats in the WBC, driving in two runs in the title game.

''It was a lot of fun,'' Crawford said. ''I probably would have told you that even before the thing started, because I figured it would be a lot of fun. Just to get to know some of the best players in the game and see how they are in the clubhouse, how they are as teammates, that part was a lot of fun. That we won made it even better.''

Team USA's run to the WBC championship captivated many, and Crawford feels that can only be good for interest in baseball nationwide.

''We went further than any U.S. team had ever gone, so I think the excitement kind of grew the closer we got to that championship game,'' Crawford said. ''Getting through the second round by beating the Dominican kind of opened some eyes to American fans like, `OK, we're a pretty good team, we just beat the defending champions.'''

Crawford's thought was interrupted by Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who offered congratulations. Meulens managed the Netherlands to the semifinals against Puerto Rico, where his team lost in extra innings.

''I wish we'd have played in that last game,'' Meulens said.

''Same result would have happened,'' Crawford answered with a smile.

The WBC trophy is unique, but it doesn't top the two World Series championships Crawford has won with the Giants. Still, Crawford won't soon forget USA teammate Adam Jones' home run-stealing catch in the win over the Dominican Republic , and celebrating the championship with his teammates and a bald eagle statue at Dodger Stadium this past Wednesday night.

''It's different than postseason or winning a World Series, but it was definitely an honor to be a part of the best U.S. team that's ever played in that tournament,'' Crawford said.

Crawford should be ready for the start of the regular season. He asked Giants manager Bruce Bochy to play him a lot in spring training games before the WBC, then returned from it having found his timing.

Crawford said he thinks those American players who declined an invitation to the WBC, or might be interested in playing in four years, will strongly consider it now.

''I'm guessing a lot of guys probably saw how much fun we had and how cool it was to be out there, and how much excitement surrounded this tournament this time,'' Crawford said. ''I think it will get some guys going for the next WBC.''

NOTES: RHP Johnny Cueto pitched against Arizona Diamondbacks minor leaguers at the Giants' minor league complex on Saturday. He threw 85 pitches, allowed no runs and six hits, walked one and struck out 10. Cueto's next scheduled start is Thursday, when the Giants are in the Bay Area for the annual exhibition series against Oakland. ''I feel good, I feel healthy and I feel strong,'' Cueto said.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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