The Los Angeles Dodgers are in Sydney, Australia and in the final stages of their preparation for the Opening Series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Permitted to travel with 30 players, the Dodgers have more bodies than they’re accustomed to, but left behind two outfielders — Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp — who should both play an important role in the team’s run at a World Series.
Crawford remained at Camelback Ranch due to the impending birth of his third child, which is expected at any moment. During his time in Arizona, Crawford has played in Minor League games and left action early on Tuesday with what was later called inflammation in his right shoulder. He was then diagnosed with the flu and was expected to be held out for a couple of days to recover. According to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com, Crawford was back in the lineup on Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds:
Carl Crawford, who missed a day with mild right should inflammation, went 3-for-3 with a homer and an RBI single in a Minor League game against the Reds at Camelback Ranch.
Kemp, who by all accounts is inching closer to a debut with each passing day, managed to play an entire game but struggled at the plate, reports Gurnick:
Matt Kemp, continuing his rehab from left ankle and left shoulder operations, played an entire game, which is good news. He also went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts, which continues a very rugged comeback offensively.
Despite another 0-for game from Kemp, him playing an entire game is a significant step forward in his recovery. Since he started playing in intrasquad games, he’s been able to increase his work load without suffering any setbacks. ESPN’s Buster Olney went so far as to say he believes Kemp will return within the first 10 days of the season and he expects big things from the center fielder in 2014.
Following the two-game series in Australia, the Dodgers will return to the U.S. for a three-game set with the Los Angeles of Anaheim, beginning on March 27. Their regular season schedule will then resume with a road series against the San Diego Padres, which begins on March 30. Crawford appears to be on track to re-join the team upon their return and Kemp shouldn’t be too far behind.
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