Will Carl Crawford be ready by opening day-Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers Prepared To Treat Crawford With Kid Gloves Until Ready

So as the first day of Dodger spring training came and went, I still have a bit of dread that sneaks up into my mind. It’s a remnant leftover from last season. I’m afraid that everyone will get hurt again, like last season, and normally that stuff starts happening even before spring training begins. Last season it started well before when we received injury news on several players who were expected to miss significant amounts of time. Now reading the latest article from Ken Gurnick on Carl Crawford’s surgically repaired elbow, isn’t making me feel any better.

We have been led to believe that Crawford will be ready to play on opening day as the Dodger’s every day left fielder, and lead-off man. Now however we are hearing differently, or the language has changed. It could be possible that Crawford might not be ready by opening day, and the Dodgers are prepared to baby him along in a platoon with Jerry Hairston, and Skip Schumaker.

The Dodgers traded for Carl Crawford last August in the blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox that brought over Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. Crawford is under contract through 2017 on a seven year 142 million dollar contract that the Dodgers are now responsible for 100 million dollars of.

Yesterday, Crawford showed up to Camelback Ranch at Glendale Arizona, and put on the Dodger uniform for the very first time. When asked about his arm, he had told the media that he didn’t feel any pain but did feel general fatigue. He also said he isn’t as far along in his recovery as he would like to be. Apparently he can throw up to about 90 feet, but that’s it, and might not be able to hit the cut-off man. That’s not good.

This is a bit disconcerting but somewhat expected. Crawford is coming off of Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last August. The injury held Crawford to just 31 games with the Red Sox last season. Crawford still posted a slash line of .282/.306/.479 with three home runs in 125 plate appearances. The Dodgers are really counting on him to be healthy and ready to go come opening day. But will he? Dodger manager Don Mattingly has told Gurnick that he is prepared to platoon Crawford with Jerry Hairston, and Schumaker to ease him back into playing every day until he is ready. But is that such a wise move?

I’m sure you know by now, but I don’t like platoons much. I think they’re counter-productive, and only useful when a certain player has an extreme split. Otherwise we’re starting the season once again, with bench players in our starting lineup, which is not good. Remember we went through that last season didn’t we? No offense to Jhair, and Schumaker, but the bench players just don’t produce much offensively.

Of course if Crawford isn’t ready, then he isn’t ready. I don’t condone rushing him, but we really can’t afford to put scrubs in the lineup again. The four time all-star also said his left wrist feels fine. That’s the same wrist that has been bothered by arthritis the last two seasons. Crawford also called the Red Sox clubhouse a toxic environment, and said he was glad to finally get out of that situation.

Perhaps the better solution would be to sit Crawford for the first few weeks until he is fully healthy. But I am more inclined to think that maybe we should just let him play and throw him into the fire. I don’t really care much if he can’t throw, as long as he can hit. I mean he’s not a pitcher, so how much do we need to ease him in? He’s not going to be throwing all that much. Besides, statistically speaking, Crawford’s worst career month has been April. (.267 BA) Crawford is expected to be team’s lead-off hitter, despite the initial rumors he doesn’t like to hit lead-off. Those turned out to be false by the way. If you check out his numbers, he has always done well batting lead-off. Batting lead-off he is hitting .284, with a .335 OBP, 27 home runs, and 141 stolen bases. The guy has had plenty of success batting lead-off.

What worries me though is inactivity. That is very bad for position players who haven’t played in a long time. That’s because they can have trouble readjusting to getting their timing back on their swings. Long periods of inactivity can make it harder for the player to get their timing back. It takes time normally, and the more playing time you get, the quicker you get back into the swing of things. No pun intended.

I am not cool with the idea of already admitting to using bench players in our starting lineup on opening day. At least wait and see how he feels in a few weeks, and go from there. We have a long way to go before opening day, and I think it’s way too early to admit you’re going to platoon your 100 million dollar guy, and use bench players in the lineup. But it appears that unless Crawford makes tremendous progress over the next few weeks, then he could be headed for a platoon role the first month of the season. What do you think? Should the Dodgers platoon Crawford the first month of the season, or throw him right to the fire? Weigh in with your opinion in the comments.

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Tags: Carl Crawford Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training

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