Ok, so raise your hand if you are worried about Carl Crawford. (Raises hand). I hate to bring up bad news, but I’m starting to worry that Crawford may not be ready by opening day. The reason for this is the latest update coming out of Camelback Ranch this week. (We just learned that Crawford has nerve irritation in his forearm. Not just soreness. He will be out at least a week).
The Dodgers reported on Thursday that Crawford felt general soreness, or stiffness in his surgically repaired throwing arm. It is still unknown how long this will set him back in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers acquired Crawford in trade from the Boston Red Sox last August 25 in the blockbuster deal that sent him, along with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers, in exchange for James Loney, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus Jr, Allen Webster and Ruby De La Rosa. Crawford was limited to just 31 games with the Red Sox last season because of the injury.
Crawford engaged in non-hitting and non-throwing drills, and reported feeling the soreness about two days ago. The Dodgers are being very cautious with Crawford and not trying to rush him back. The Dodgers had originally hoped he would be ready to start playing in games by the first week of March, but now that appears like it won’t happen. His time frame will have to be pushed back.
Last August Crawford had to have Tommy John surgery on his torn left elbow. He also missed considerable time with a wrist injurry. Crawford is an outfielder, and was expected to be ready by opening day. But perhaps that estimate was a bit generous? Most players who have the surgery are pitchers, and when a pitcher has the surgery the recovery time is normally anywhere from 12-18 months. However with position players, the timeline is much shorter. Position players can obviously recover much quicker. The question is how long does it normally take for a position player to recover from Tommy John surgery?
I took a look around to see if there were any other notable current position players that have recently had the surgery, and how long it took them to recover. There aren’t many active position players that have had it done, but there was one player who has had it done recently that stood out in my mind.
Kyle Blanks, an outfielder for the San Diego Padres had the surgery back in April of 2011. Blanks is a 26 year old right handed hitting outfielder. Generally the recovery time frame for a position player is anywhere from 6-9 months. Usually it’s around six months, or so we are told. The truth is every player’s physiology is different, and some players require longer recovery times that others, or just heal faster. For Blanks, he ended up missing the entire 2012 season. But not because of the Tommy John surgery, he actually had to have surgery on a torn labrum in his shoulder, but he was able to recover from the Tommy John surgery in about six months. It was the laburm surgery that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season. Once returning from the surgery in late 2011, Blanks went on a hitting tear, no pun intended. In his first full month back, (August of 2011), he hit seven home runs, posted an .890 OPS, and knocked in 21 runs that month. While Blanks missed the entire 2012 season, he is back in spring training this season, healthy and playing in games for the Padres. if Blanks can do it, why couldn’t Crawford be able to do it? Should we be worried about Crawford?
Crawford’s timing was bad. He had the surgery last August, and it’s six months recovery minimum. So here we are in February, the end of the six month timeline. It is possible, that Crawford may not be ready until May, or even June at the latest. When asked about the setback, Crawford didn’t sound to worried, but he may just be spin-doctoring this to the media. Crawford said that the soreness just flared up on him.
“We just have to stay on top of it. I don’t look at it as a major setback. If I had to, I could do the things I’d have to do”
The king of the spin doctors, manager Don Mattingly, seems to think it’s a normal process of the rehabilitation. I hope he’s right. Mattingly thought Crawford had thrown too much during his rehab.
“It’s not uncommon going through this,” Mattingly said. “We want to be cautious with Carl. There’s plenty of time before Opening Day. I don’t know if it’s a setback, but it’s a pause. We want to be cautious, we don’t want to push it.”
Mattingly was thinking about using Crawford as a DH until he felt he was ready to play in the field, now it looks like that might not happen for a while.
Do the Dodgers have a backup plan? Kind of sort of, not really. If Crawford isn’t ready by opening day, the Dodgers will probably platoon Jerry Hairston, and Skip Schumaker in left field, until he returns. If this scenario occurs, then it could open up an extra spot on the bench. Do you guys think Crawford will be ready by opening day? We would like know what you think. Please give us your opinion in the poll below. Kyle Blanks did it, but he had to miss a whole season. Can Carl Crawford make a successful recovery?
I hope Carl Crawford is ready to go by opening day. However we all might have to face the realities of the situation. Crawford may not be ready until May, and there may be nothing we can do about it. Somebody better tell Jhair to stay loose.