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Crawford rejuvenated since suspension

Crawford rejuvenated since suspension

MIAMI -- Perhaps there is a silver lining to the suspension cloud for Carl Crawford.

Since his return from serving four games for his involvement in the June 5 fracas with the Red Sox, Crawford enters Tuesday's contest in South Florida riding a notable high.

Floating around the Nos. 2 and 3 holes in the Rays' lineup, Crawford went 9-for-19 with five RBIs, a triple and a grand slam in the last five games of the Rays' homestand.

Hampered by lingering hamstring problems due, in part, to the artificial surface at Tropicana Field, the 26-year-old has looked startlingly resurgent.

"This is a little bit longer than we've been able to rest him in the past, but normally he responds well to rest," manager Joe Maddon said.

The Rays skipper has tried to give Crawford a "double day" of rest in the season's early months, by benching the outfielder on the day before a scheduled off-day. But the four games (June 13-17) in which Crawford wasn't permitted to even be on the field come game time proved to be quite a stretch.

"It's been good for me to get a chance to rest my legs," Crawford said of his suspension. "That's the most important thing. Now, I feel better."

The Houston native acknowledged prior to his first game back that he was beginning to get a little antsy, and his performance at the plate certainly exposed his newfound energy.

Following Wednesday's 1-for-3 performance, Crawford went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a grand slam to help the Rays topple the Cubs, 8-3.

He followed that up with a pair of 2-for-4 games on Friday and Saturday, and Maddon agreed Crawford looked primed to spring off of those stats.

"He looks good at the plate right now," Maddon said. "He's going to get on one of his hot streaks, we are really close to that. I see that every year that I've been here, and I really believe it's going to happen again. It looks like he might be on the verge of that right now."

Last season, Crawford had several notable offensive streaks, going 91-for-259 (.351) following a move from the No. 3 hole to the No. 2 hole on July 3. He also went 28-for-49 over a 12-game stretch beginning on July 30, including a club-record eight straight multi-hit games.

For a Rays squad that has been struggling with the bats, a red-hot C.C. would be much-welcome relief.

Although Crawford said prior to Tuesday night's opener against Florida that his legs felt "the same," playing the next six games on grass -- three vs. the Marlins and three in Pittsburgh -- can only facilitate his production.

Crawford smiled when asked about the taboo topic of his hit streaks.

"I don't know if one of those streaks are coming," Crawford said.

But he is sure about one thing concerning his four-game hiatus.

"I don't think I'm getting a day off for a while," he said.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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