It was probably wishful thinking anyway.
After missing the first half of 2012 coming off wrist surgery, only to become injured again 31 games in before needing to go through a Tommy John surgery that cost him the rest of his season, was Carl Crawford really going to be in full health for 2013?
The Los Angeles Dodgers hoped that it would be the case. Unfortunately, that won’t be enough.
The team’s projected starting left fielder was held out of Friday’s Cactus League match against the Los Angeles Angels because of a flare-up in his surgically repaired elbow. According to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, that flare-up has now been officially been upgraded to a full-blown setback:
So much for the feel-good vibe of having Matt Kemp in game action for the first time this spring.
The plan, as Scott Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports, is to have the outfielder shut down for at least a week before resuming activities, but because of the penchant for Tommy John recoveries to have these kinds of setbacks, that’s really more of an optimistic guideline.
Mattingly’s suggestion that the team might not have Crawford for opening day leaves the team without very many options. Los Angeles does have Jerry Hairston and Skip Schmaker as backups, but between the two of them, they’ve spent exactly 110 innings in left field. Hairston is coming off of his own hip surgery at age 36, and Schmaker is a middle infielder.
Both are best suited for that role, and neither has the kind of speed that Crawford would bring to the leadoff spot in the lineup.
That job will go to…well, there’s no ideal candidate, really. Regardless of how it shakes out, the loss of Crawford and his 15-homer, 50-steal potential will be a significant loss for the Dodgers, especially when they’re on the hook for the remaining $102.5 million contract through 2017.
Los Angeles could platoon Schumaker and Hairston as a solution to start the season, but at this point, Crawford’s return – whenever that is – will be full of question marks.
The 31-year old is coming off a a disastrous 2011, followed by a lost season to a pair of significant injuries, and now a setback in spring. How he’ll perform both at the field and at the plate are going to be highly scrutinized, and though there is certainly the potential for him to be a star, the chances of his swing being affected by a two arm injuries are probably going to be pretty likely.
To think otherwise would be employing wishful thinking, and that hasn’t gotten the Dodgers very far with Crawford.