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Notes: Crawford suspended by MLB

Notes: Crawford suspended by MLB

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Carl Crawford has been suspended for two games and fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for his "inappropriate actions" during the bottom of the third inning of the Rays' Sept. 3 game against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field. Bob Watson, Vice President of On-Field Operations for Major League Baseball, made the announcement on Wednesday.

Crawford will appeal his suspension, which had been scheduled to begin on Wednesday night, and will not serve his punishment until the process is complete.

The episode occurred after Crawford hit what appeared to be a run-scoring infield single, only first-base umpire Paul Nauert called him out, and replays showed that Crawford beat the throw and that first baseman Kevin Millar's foot was off the base. Crawford couldn't believe the call and jumped in the air, double-pumping before slam dunking his helmet off the infield clay.

Nauert ejected Crawford immediately. Rays first-base coach George Hendrick got in between Crawford and Nauert, which turned out to be a good thing. But while screening Crawford from Nauert, Hendrick had to put his arm forward and touched Nauert.

"I knew I was probably going to get suspended," Crawford said. "Just didn't know how many games, so I'm not surprised."

Crawford was asked if he thought the action was excessive.

"What I did was wrong, you should never get into it with an umpire like that or something bad is going to happen, like a suspension," Crawford said. "I can't really say if [the disciplinary action] was bad or not. I just hate that it had to come to that."

However, Rays manager Joe Maddon did believe a two-game suspension was too much.

"I think it's a little bit excessive, I do," Maddon said. "Based on the entire play and you take into consideration what motivated the action, I think it was a little bit excessive."

Crawford said the fine was $1,000, noting with a smile, "a thousand bucks, too much for me."

Crawford was suspended once before in 2004 for taking part in a bench-clearing brawl against the Pirates.

"So I haven't been in trouble for what, four or five years?" Crawford said.

Crawford for Clemente: Crawford was recognized before Wednesday night's game against the Orioles as the Rays recipient of the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award given annually to the player who combines outstanding skills on the baseball field with devoted work in the community. Crawford has directed his community efforts towards assisting youth baseball leagues.

Working through the Rays Youth Field Renovation Program, Crawford has provided financial support to rebuild the historic fields of West Tampa Little League where a number of Major League players got their start. The project will be completed later this month with a field dedication on Sept. 25. Crawford also will conduct a clinic for the league's players next spring.

The Houston, Tex. native also sponsors two 9-and 10-year old teams in his hometown. That program will soon grow to four or five teams and includes plans to build a baseball complex for the youngsters.

Offensive display: While going 9-3 in their last dozen games (since Aug. 24), the Rays have scored 101 runs, which are the most in the Majors; they have batted .317, which is tied with the Reds and Phillies for highest in the Majors; they have hit 21 home runs, most in the Majors; and have hit .353 with runners in scoring position.

Improvement on the mound: Pitching has been a problem for the Rays this season, but they have shown improvement lately.

The Rays' pitchers have a 4.38 ERA over the last dozen games, which ranks 17th in the Major Leagues. In addition, the staff has issued just 28 walks -- only the Reds and Rockies have issued fewer in the Majors with 27. And the opponent's batting average of .272 ranks 13th in the Majors.

This and that: Akinori Iwamura's bat passed whatever tests Major League Baseball conducts on bats and is en route back to the Rays third baseman. ... The Rays still do not have any results on the medical tests that outfielder Rocco Baldelli recently underwent; he has been on the disabled list since May 17 with a strained left hamstring.

Up next: The Rays will be off Thursday before welcoming the Blue Jays for a three-game series that begins Friday night with a 7:10 ET contest at Tropicana Field. Right-hander Edwin Jackson (4-13, 5.78 ERA) will start for the Rays and will be opposed by right-hander Dustin McGowan (9-8, 4.00).

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

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