Craig looking ahead but grateful for time with Cards

Craig looking ahead but grateful for time with Cards

ST. LOUIS -- When Allen Craig drove into downtown St. Louis in April 2010, he was a 25-year-old rookie and knew next to nothing about the city or what awaited him.

In time he would become a beloved member of the 2011 World Series team, and he developed into an All-Star last season, when he hit .315.

This season started slower as he worked back from a foot injury sustained last season, and he hit .237 in 97 games before the Cardinals traded him to the Red Sox last week at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

"I was thinking earlier just about coming to St. Louis for the first time and seeing the stadium and not really knowing anything about the city or anything," Craig said on Tuesday, standing in the visitors' clubhouse at Busch Stadium before the Red Sox and Cardinals opened a three-game series. "Where I sit here today, winning a World Series, playing in another World Series [and being] one game within another World Series, I've just been extremely blessed to be a part of this team and the fan base."

Though Craig won't appear in this series, having been placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with a foot injury sustained when he arrived in Boston last Friday, that didn't stop the questions from coming. Craig was visibly shaken in San Diego last Thursday when he was traded, hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. After he signed a five-year, $31 million contract with an option for a sixth season during Spring Training of 2013, the expectation had been that his tenure in St. Louis would be long-lived.

"The business of baseball sometimes takes you directions that you weren't exactly expecting, but that's part of the game," he said. "The toughest part was just leaving the people behind, because that's what it's about -- relationships with people. To see that ending is a little sad, but I'm really looking forward to this opportunity that I have [with the Red Sox]."

The Cardinals and Craig both struggled to find the perfect solution to his troubles at the plate this season. He worked with mechanics and hit .333 during a 12-game stretch in early June, but that level couldn't be sustained.

On Tuesday he refused to blame his lack of production on injuries. Instead he was looking ahead, with three guaranteed years left on his contract and a new view on this particular ride into downtown St. Louis.

"Things change, and I'm looking forward to this new chapter in Boston," he said. "How I feel today is how I felt a few years ago coming to St. Louis a little bit. It's going to be new, and I've got to learn and get to know the guys and fan base and organization."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.