Bobby Crosby thought he was done. The desire to play baseball had left him and he was content knowing his career was over.
Two seasons later, Crosby is making a comeback, attempting to make the Milwaukee Brewers as a utility infielder.
So, what changed?
“I finally got the fire back to come back and play,” Crosby said. “I had lost it a little bit there, and I finally realized that this is what I want to do. I got the fire to come back and battle and play baseball.”
The 2004 American League Rookie of the Year with Oakland, Crosby never could duplicate the success he had his first full season in the big leagues when he hit .239 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI.
He spent the next four seasons as the Athletics’ starting shortstop before the team signed Orlando Cabrera in 2009.
Crosby, 33, played 2009 as a utilityman for Oakland before signing with Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2010. Hitting just .224 with one home run in 61 games with the Pirates, Crosby was traded to Arizona in July.
On Aug. 21, 2010, Crosby played his last game for the Diamondbacks. He didn’t appear in another baseball game until last Tuesday when he made his spring training debut for the Brewers in an exhibition against Canada.
It was a delayed spring debut, as Crosby missed the start of camp with a leg injury. For somebody fighting to prove to Milwaukee that he still can be a valuable asset and play at the highest level, time on the field is crucial.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Crosby said. “It didn’t feel like it had been that long, but it was good to get out there and get my feet wet and get a feel for the game again.
Crosby went 0 for 3 with a strikeout on Tuesday and was slated to start at first base Friday before rain canceled Milwaukee’s spring training game with Texas.
Knowing it was a long spring training with the World Baseball Classic this year, he didn’t want to rush back from an injury too quickly, especially having been away from the game so long.
“It was something if it had been during the middle of the season I would have been playing,” Crosby said. “I knew it wasn’t anything serious. The last thing you want to do in spring is further aggravate something. It was a little frustrating, but I wasn’t too worried about it.”
Crosby called Oakland’s signing of Cabrera back in 2009 a bit of a blessing in disguise for his current situation. He was forced to learn how to play third base, second base and first base that season, and that versatility will only help his chances to make the Opening Day roster.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke saw Crosby play quite a bit up close as Roenicke was on the Angels coaching staff during the time Crosby was with Oakland.
“Defensively he can play,” Roenicke said. “He’s quick-footed, he had good hands, good arm and knows how to play. I don’t think defensively there will be any issues, especially at third base. Shortstop, I need to see if he still has the range.
“We’ll get to see a lot of him before we make decisions.”
WBC Update: Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo made a strong World Baseball Classic debut Friday night before running into a bit of trouble in his fourth inning of work for Mexico against the United States.
Gallardo gave up just a single to Joe Mauer through three innings but allowed a single to Brandon Philips and a walk to Ryan Braun in the fourth inning.
It took Gallardo 49 pitches to get through 3 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking just one.
Braun lined out to center and walked in his two plate appearances against Gallardo.
Minor league pitching prospect Hiram Burgos worked 4 2/3 scoreless innings in Puerto Rico’s 3-0 victory over Spain on Friday, while Jim Henderson allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning in Canada’s 14-4 loss to Italy.
Brewers infielder Taylor Green started at third base for Canada and went 1 for 4.
Interviews for this story provided by the Milwaukee Brewers.