The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield picture took somewhat of an unexpected turn when manager Don Mattingly removed Matt Kemp from center field and indicated he would now play left field.
With Carl Crawford emerging as Mattingly’s preferred choice in left, Kemp was benched until Crawford suffered a sprained ankle May 27. Crawford was placed on the 15-day disabled list, which has allowed for Kemp to receive regular playing time and he’s responded.
After it was initially believed to be a serious sprain, Crawford was making a quick recovery and there was some thought he would be activated during the Dodgers’ seven-game road trip. That didn’t manifest and though he was still recovering, Crawford expressed frustration over the outfield situation and questioned where he would fit in.
Crawford was sent to the Dodgers’ Spring Training facility to get at-bats in and continue with his recovery. However, Mattingly said Crawford has since been shut down due to his ankle no longer healing, via Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times:
He just quit going forward,” Mattingly said. “He was going so good, he’d ran and he was hitting. We really thought he was getting close. And then all of a sudden it seemed like he hit a level where he was feeling different things and wasn’t able to keep going.”
While Crawford currently isn’t able to continue pushing forward, Mattingly doesn’t necessarily view it as a setback:
I look at it more that he’s gotten stuck.”
The outfield Crawford will eventually return to is different than the one he left. Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke have shared center field duties, which likely means Crawford will still be part of a platoon in left, though this time with Kemp.
This season, Crawford is hitting .267 with four home runs and 18 RBIs. In part due to injuries, Mattingly was able to juggle an outfield rotation last season while generally keeping players happy. The manager may have more of a difficult time this season however, as Crawford speaking out with disdain of the situation.
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