Since getting Carl Crawford from the Boston Red Sox in last season’s biggest trade, the Los Angeles Dodgers have yet to see their coveted outfielder play an inning. Crawford is recovering from a surgically repaired right elbow, but is determined that he will be ready to go on Opening Day.
Crawford was in the lineup as the designated hitter in his first four spring outings, and then made his debut in left field this past Saturday against the Chicago White Sox. During his three innings in the field, Crawford didn’t have to make a single play.
Getting some time in the field has given Crawford reason to be optimistic. “I should be real comfortable out there by April 1,”
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly has stated that if Crawford isn’t ready to go a full nine innings of play in the outfield during the first week of play, he’d still possibly be used as a pinch-hitter, keeping him on the active roster.
The Dodgers look to Crawford to be their leadoff man, which is something Los Angeles was sorely lacking in 2012, when their leadoff men finished 15th in the National League in on-base percentage. Without Crawford healthy and setting the table, the Dodgers are going to run into some of the same issues they faced in 2012 when it comes to scoring runs.
Should Crawford still not be ready to go by the opener, the Dodgers may have to go with either (or both) Skip Schumaker or Jerry Hairston in left field. Although both solid veteran players, neither of them possess the ability to get on base and use speed to create runs the way Crawford can.
The Dodgers open the season at home against their biggest rival, the San Francisco Giants, in a 3-game series on April 1-3.