- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 24, 2008

CHICAGO | The Washington Nationals‘ last-ditch efforts to sign Aaron Crow last week probably were conducted in vain because the first-round pick made up his mind earlier in the day he wouldn’t come to terms with the team that drafted him.

Appearing Saturday on blogtalkradio.com, an Internet radio site, Crow suggested it didn’t matter that the Nationals increased their contract offer in the final minutes before the Aug. 15 deadline for all draft picks to sign.

Related content: BlogTalkRadio’s Aaron Crow interview

“Before the deadline came, I realized I’ll be better off in a better situation next year,” Crow said in his first public comments since the deadline arrived. “So I was kind of content with how it was going in the end. I kind of knew nothing was going to get worked out, so I realized I’d be better off [going back into the draft] next year. I kind of made my peace with that.”

The Nationals, who selected the right-hander ninth overall in the June 5 draft, have said they didn’t receive their first offer ($9 million) from Crow’s representatives, Alan and Randy Hendricks, until Aug. 12.

To that point, Washington had offered about $2.1 million, but general manager Jim Bowden said the offer increased gradually over the final three days to as much as $3.5 million right before the Aug. 15 midnight deadline.

The Hendricks didn’t budge from their final offer of $4 million, so Crow never became signed. He now pitches for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent American Association.

Crow said he sat by his agents’ side and received information as the Nationals made counteroffers, though he said he “kind of had my mind made up” before the final hour of negotiations.

“Honestly, I just hope for a better situation [next year] than it was with Washington,” Crow said. “The way they dealt and handled everything, the way they talked to me and my family … I think any of the 29 other teams would have handled it better. I’m just really looking to get into a better situation than I was dealing with the Nationals.”

Rain-soaked error

Marco Estrada‘s second career appearance featured a most unusual scene.

The rookie reliever cruised through the seventh inning Saturday but then got into trouble in the eighth, when he couldn’t field a hard comebacker by Ryan Theriot.

“It was one of the easiest plays anybody can make, and I lost it,” the right-hander said. “It just hit me in the chest.”

As Estrada retook the mound to face Derrek Lee, a sudden cloudburst hit Wrigley Field. Estrada threw four straight balls to Lee, and though the rain subsided by the end of the plate appearance, he still struggled to grip the ball.

Aramis Ramirez, the next batter, hit a 2-1 pitch to right field for his second home run of the game.

“Oh my God, you have no idea how mad that makes you,” Estrada said of the quick-but-intense rainstorm. “It ruined everything I had. … As soon as it started raining, it got all over my hand. I lost the feel of it. I didn’t have control of it after that, and I threw the ball down the middle and he hit it out.”

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