In his first full season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, outfielder Carl Crawford was limited to just 116 games played as he dealt with back and hamstring injuries. The 32-year-old outfielder hit .283 with six home runs and 31 RBI, but stole just 15 bases, a career low for a season in which he played at least 100 games.
Coming into the 2014 season, manager Don Mattingly has four high-priced outfielders at his disposal and plans on giving all of them ample rest throughout the year. Saying that he feels like he did in spring training prior to the 2011 season, Crawford wants to get back to stealing bases this season according to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com:
That’s what’s frustrating, Crawford said. I got my triples, went from first to third, why am I not stealing more? It’s all mental and I just have to get over the hump.
Crawford smacked three triples during the season, but if he can carry over his postseason experience into the season, the Dodgers will definitely be excited. In 10 postseason games, he hit .289 with four of his seven hits going for home runs while he stole one base.
It’ll be interesting to see how Crawford’s chase to steal bases is affected by the likely scenario that Yasiel Puig starts the season hitting leadoff. Mattingly hasn’t decided what to do atop the Dodgers lineup to start the season, but with 11 days until Cactus League play gets underway, there’s still time to tinker with the lineup.
In 2013, the Dodgers tied for 17th with 78 stolen bases and adding a speed element to the team would be a welcome addition. While the days of Crawford stealing close to 30 bases are over, if he can get back to putting fear in opposing pitchers minds that he might swipe a bag, the Dodgers offense will be in great shape.
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