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Las Vegas Review-Journal


Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Crosby starting to show potential

Former first-round pick blistering ball for 51s

Bubba Crosby

Bubba Crosby, who was drafted by the Dodgers in 1998, has a slugging percentage of 1.200 to start the season with the 51s.

He had it all, they said of Bubba Crosby. Speed to burn. Power to spare. And drive. No one worked harder or wanted it more.

When Crosby left Rice University in 1998 and signed with the Dodgers after being their first-round draft choice, there seemed little question he would be an impact player in Los Angeles before too long.

They're still waiting five years later. And finally, perhaps for the first time in his pro career, Crosby is showing that maybe the Dodgers knew what they were doing when they drafted him.

Crosby is scorching the ball to begin the Pacific Coast League season. He ripped an RBI double to right-center field on the first pitch he saw Monday in the 51s' 9-7 victory over the Edmonton Trappers at Cashman Field.

It continued a white hot start for the 26-year-old, whose success has come sporadically in previous stints at Triple A. But after five games, he already has four doubles, three triples, a home run and a slugging percentage of 1.200.

Crosby, though, said he doesn't want to get too high despite his blazing start. He said his key has been staying on an even keel and approaching every at-bat the same way.

"I try not to think about it too much because I know this is a game of failure," Crosby said of his quick start. "Your days of not getting hits are going to come. If that wasn't the case, there would be a lot more people in professional baseball and it would be a lot easier game. It's a tough game and you know the bad days are going to come.

"The ones who survive are the ones who stay consistent and make the adjustments. You have to be able to pull yourself out when things aren't going well. I'm trying to create a mental picture of what I'm doing now 24/7."

Crosby was a heralded home run hitter at Rice, where he teamed with current Houston Astros slugger Lance Berkman to give the Owls one of the most formidable outfields in college baseball. Crosby hit 25 home runs in his final year at Rice and had 59 in 173 college games.

It didn't take Crosby long as a pro to find out an important fact: He wasn't going to be a home run hitter.

He had to learn to do the things that caused the Dodgers to select him. He's working on his bunting to take advantage of his speed. He's no longer looking to pull every pitch as he was at Rice.

"I never knew how to go the other way with the pitch because I tried to pull everything," Crosby said. "This year is the first year I've learned to do everything. I'm hitting it where it's pitched. I've learned how to not just become a dominant opposite-field hitter but also not become a dominant pull hitter. I just try to be a gap-to-gap, line-drive kind of a guy.

"I don't go up there at all looking for a home run like I used to. I know if I can make solid contact with the ball, especially in these parks, I'm going to get one every once in a while. ... I try to utilize my speed when I can and that's pretty much been my secret."