Speier impressed with Giants shortstop Crawford

Speier impressed with Giants shortstop Crawford

CINCINNATI -- The Giants' regular shortstop combines impressive range with an impossibly strong throwing arm. He spent his formative years in the East Bay and wears No. 35.

Today, that's Brandon Crawford. About 40 years ago, it was Chris Speier.

Speier, the Reds' bench coach, broke into the Majors with San Francisco in 1971 and proceeded to make three All-Star teams. He returned to the Giants in 1987 for the final three seasons of a 19-year playing career. A connoisseur of shortstops, Speier is duly impressed by his 25-year-old successor.

"From a defensive standpoint, I love him," Speier said. "I think he's everything you can expect from a shortstop. He has a great arm. He stays under control. What's hard is not seeing him on a more consistent basis; you get glimpses of him for three games here and three games there. But defensively, gosh, he makes all the plays."

Crawford is the second everyday Giants shortstop to wear No. 35 since Speier's heyday. Rich Aurilia was the other. Though numerous non-shortstops have worn No. 35 since Speier stopped playing, Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, who issues jersey numbers, found Aurilia and Crawford worthy of receiving the number. The Reds-Giants Division Series gave Crawford an opportunity to speak to Speier and tell him that he felt proud to wear No. 35.

"It's an honor to have that number passed on like that," Speier said. "It means a lot to me."