OAKLAND — Brandon Crawford has been to the Coliseum plenty of times, but the vibe was decidedly different Monday night for the St. Louis Cardinals shortstop.

He departed from a team hotel, took a bus to the game and wasn’t in the starting lineup against the Athletics for the start of a three-game series.

Crawford’s wife Jalynne and youngest child are scheduled to arrive Wednesday. He expected to see his parents and sister in the stands but wasn’t sure who else would be there from his days as a football and baseball star at Foothill High in Pleasanton.

It’s not certain that Crawford will play at all in the series, given his job as a backup shortstop and mentor for starter Maysn Winn.

“It’s a tough role, not playing every day and not getting your timing going with the bat,” Crawford said in the visiting dugout a few hours before the game. “But I’m not complaining. I knew what I signed up for and I’m trying to help out any way I can.”

The series will be the closest thing to a homecoming until the Cardinals visit Oracle Park in the final regular season of the series Sept. 25-27.

Crawford has been connected with the Giants since photos had him with a depressed look on his face at age 5, imploring the Giants to stay in town and not move to Toronto. But he’s spent his share of time watching baseball at the Coliseum as well, given its distance from Pleasanton, and 32 years later he’s sad about the A’s leaving for Sacramento and possibly Las Vegas.

“I mean it’s tough for Bay Area sports, especially Oakland,already losing the Raiders, the Warriors going across the bay and now looking like they’re losing the A’s too,” Crawford said. “It’s disappointing.”

A series of ailments, including a hamstring strain, limited Crawford to 93 games and a .194 batting average. It affected his defensive range and skill as well, and the Giants made no attempt to bring Crawford back after 13 seasons after playing more games at shortstop than anyone in the history of the franchise.

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“I’m not in an every day role as much because it was hard on my body,” Crawford said. “To be able to go out there and try to help every four ot seven days or whatever it may be has been a new challenge for sure.”

Crawford, 37, has played in just four of 17 games, going 0-for-3 Sunday, and is 1-for-13. He feels much better physically and adjusting his routine to account for the lack of actual game time.

“I’m doing more on-field stuff than I probably did the last three to five years,” Crawford said. “With the giants I would probably take batting practice the first day of a series and some work in the field and normal prep work, but after tha tit would typically be the machine and the cage to keep my legs fresh.

“I take batting practice a little more game-like I guess, trying to be a little more selective and maybe a little different approach than I would before.”

Crawford said he’s been keeping an eye on his former teammates with the Giants. He also wonders why Brandon Belt, his Oracle locker mate for years, doesn’t have a job.

“I guess that’s baseball nowadays,” Crawford said. “But somebody that hit as well as he did last year could help a lot of teams around the league. It’s surprising.”

A’s shortstop Nick Allen has watched Crawford closely for years.

“I’ve always admired him growing up,” Allen said. “He’s won and been on the biggest stages. I grew up in San Diego so I watched the Padres a lot, and I’d see him against them and in the playoffs.”

At 5-foot-8, 166 pounds, Allen is different body type than the 6-1, 223-pound Crawford, but he said there are still things he picked up just by watching him play his trade.

“His tempo is really good and that’s big for an infield,” Allen said. “Being able to work through the ball, that’s what he does. That’s what I want to be doing.”

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Crawford said he’s enjoyed mentoring Winn, who came into the series hitting .349, and A’s manager Mark Kotsay can see where his expertise will be of some value.

“I think there’s a benefit from having an older veteran in the clubhouse and leading, especially the right one — and I know Crawford is the right one,” Kotsay said. “He carries himself like a pro. I’m sure they’re really happy to have him in that capacity right now. I think every player that gets to that point in their career, whether you want to or not, you’re looked at as the veteran guy that needs to be that person.”

Esteury Ruiz is back, J.D. Davis goes to I.L.

Outfielder Esteury Ruiz was back in the clubhouse and took batting practice with the Athletics. When Kotsay met with the media before the game, he said Davis’ MRI for an abductor strain came back negative and that a decision would be made Tuesday regarding a transaction.

It happened sooner than that. About 20 minutes before first pitch, the A’s put Davis on the 10-day I.L. and recalled Ruiz, who was available for duty against the Cardinals.



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