October 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford (25) hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves in game four of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Can Head First Slides Help Relieve Crawford's Rustiness?

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I really hope he can. Otherwise he’ll go back to looking like he’s 45 years old while running the bases. So Carl Crawford wants to steal more bases eh? Gee, that would be nice, considering the Dodgers were toothless on the base paths in 2013. Although Crawford did steal 15 last year, it’s a far cry from the 50 per year he stole in Tampa Bay. Can we have that Crawford back please?

We saw what Crawford is capable of during the playoffs though. The 32-year old outfielder batted .353 in the division series, and belted three home runs. He went on to hit .280 in the NLCS and blasted four home runs with six runs driven in total during the 2013 postseason. We know what he is capable of.

Carl Crawford-Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

So what happened to the great base stealer from Tampa Bay? What happened to the guy that had five seasons of 50+ steals, and led the American league in swipes four different times? Injuries are what happened. Crawford’s usual back and hamstring rustiness zapped him of his speed in 2013. According to this article from the Dodgers main site, Crawford is healthier than ever before this spring, and looking to get that spring back into his step.

Apparently he’s been strengthening his back and legs and feels better than he ever has. One of the plans to stay healthy is to try to stop sliding on his back leg, and slide more head first when stealing bases. These are the types of inside things that us writers don’t know. Apparently Crawford was doing a lot of his slides on his back legs last year. Now that I think back to last season, I remember Crawford sliding and I don’t think I can remember him doing a lot of head first slides. Most of his slides were on his back legs. The problem with those slides is that they put a lot of pressure on his back, and hamstrings. Perhaps that was a contributing cause to his rustiness?

Can Head First slides keep Crawford healthier in 2014?-Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This is what Crawford is saying. I believe it. The problem with head first slides is they can be dangerous too. You can easily break a finger, or hurt your hand, anything can happen. We all remember Rafael Furcal’s head first slide into third base a couple of years ago at San Francisco that resulted in him breaking his thumb. Then there was the head first slide from Dee Gordon that ended with the same result. Broken thumbs galore. There has to be some kind of balance between sliding head first, or not.

If Crawford can battle that inner rust, and keep his legs and back healthy, then we may see the return of the real Carl Crawford. The base stealer Crawford. The guy that can steal 50+ bags per season. That’s the Crawford I hope we see this season. The Dodger lineup could use some base running speed.

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