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04/09/09 2:15 PM ET

Crowe surprised to make first start

Tribe rookie fills in for Choo in series finale vs. Rangers

ARLINGTON -- Eric Wedge casually delivered the news to Trevor Crowe.

"Hey," Wedge said to Crowe as he passed him Thursday morning at the Ballpark in Arlington, "you're in there today."

What Wedge called a "little fly-by" was nothing short of the highlight of Crowe's professional career to this point. A week and a half after learning he'd be replacing an injured David Dellucci on the Tribe's Opening Day roster, Crowe was penciled in for his first Major League start. He gave Shin-Soo Choo a day off in right field and batted in the No. 8 spot of the lineup.

"It's a great feeling," Crowe said. "I figured I'd get in there when a guy needed a break at some point. But I didn't think it would be in the first series."

Crowe had a strong spring camp for the Tribe but was nonetheless ticketed for Triple-A Columbus until Dellucci's left calf strain opened the door for his first promotion to the Majors. Crowe has a strong arm in the outfield and tremendous speed on the basepaths.

"Maybe he'll be a shot of energy for us," said Wedge, who watched his offense struggle in the clutch for the series' first two games.

The Indians made Crowe a first-round Draft pick in 2005 in part because of his potential in the leadoff department. Of course, that job is now occupied by Grady Sizemore, as is Crowe's natural position of center field.

Sizemore's long-term presence in the organization means Crowe has had to get accustomed to all three outfield spots.

"I've been [bouncing around] since 2007, pretty much," he said. "They said, 'We've got this guy named Sizemore,' and I said, 'Yeah, I've seen him on SportsCenter the last couple years.'"

There was a time when Crowe was viewed as the prospect who would likely bump Sizemore out of the leadoff position and down toward the middle of the order. But Crowe's development has been hampered by injuries, and a 2006 experiment that moved him to second base to fill an organizational need and clear his path to the Majors didn't pan out.

So the 25-year-old Crowe's first promotion has come in an outfield reserve role. Dellucci is not expected back until the end of the month at the absolute earliest, so the job is Crowe's for at least a little while. If he takes it and runs with it, he could secure a more long-term spot on the active roster.

Of course, Crowe is not accustomed to being a backup, so he's currently in the midst of an adjustment period.

"I dealt with it in college [at the University of Arizona] my sophomore year," he said. "I was fighting to play every day. Now, I know there's a big difference between college and the big leagues, but the one thing that's the same is that the goal is to win the game, whereas, in the Minors, the goal is to develop."

Thursday's game was the first chance for Crowe to show how much he's developed on the game's biggest stage. And he had his parents, David and Terryl, in attendance to witness it.

But just as Wedge casually delivered the news to Crowe, the young outfielder had no intention of informing his parents, who made the trek from Portland, Ore., with some grand pronouncement.

"They'll find out when they get here [and see the lineup]," Crowe said with a smile.

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