The journey back to playing at the Major League level can be quite tricky for players returning from the disabled list.
Ever since going down on 60-day disabled list, Carl Crawford has had a patient recovery process. The 34-year-old player was focused on increasing his leg strength so that lack of speed won’t be an issue once he returned. When the left-handed hitter was activated off of the disabled list on July 21, he understood that he lost his starting position and that he would have to work his way back.
After the Dodgers 3-0 victory against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, Crawford was aggressive on the base paths, trying to spark a run any way he can in what shaped up to be a pitcher’s duel. “Runs are going to be hard to come by, so you’re trying everything you can to get one run at least, Crawford said. “That’s why I had that aggressive play earlier on in the game.” The play he is referring to is when he was tagged out on a play at third in the first inning when he tried to advance on a ground ball.
With aces Clayton Kershaw and Jordan Zimmerman on the mound, runs were going to be hard to come by, so Crawford remained adamant on trying to support his star pitcher. When describing how the ball club came out to play, the left fielder said that the team needed to be assertive. “Just playing hard the way we do,” Crawford stated. “Had Kershaw on the mound. The way he was pitching, it was considered one of those nights.”
In his last nine games, Crawford has only started four of them, leaving him in a situation where he is not getting consistent at-bats. Although Andre Ethier did win the starting left-field position, manager Don Mattingly made a statement recently in saying that Crawford will start at least once a series. From a hitter’s perspective, the inconsistency in at-bats is hard to overcome, but for veteran outfielder it is more about making a contribution.
“Most of the time I’ve been playing, just trying to make something happen whenever I get a chance to play,” Crawford said. “My at-bats are limited right now, so I’m just trying to make something happen when I get a chance.” In Wednesday’s game, the Texas native definitely made his presence felt, collecting three of the four hits the Dodgers had the entire game, including an RBI single.
After Wednesday’s game, Crawford is now 7-for-16 in his career against the pitcher, with three doubles, two RBIs, and a walk. When reporters asked Crawford if he felt an advantage over Zimmerman, Crawford remained surprised. “I didn’t know I had my way with him,” Crawford stated. “It’s not easy at-bats, I’ll tell you that. Fortunately enough I’ve been having success against him and I don’t really know why, but seemed to find a hole.”
For Crawford, coming back from the injury and being a part of the clubhouse was a big deal to him. That stepping stone was the first that signified that he had overcome the bothersome injury and is fully healed. While asked if he felt any soreness in the oblique after the game, Crawford stated, “My oblique is fine. I’ve been healthy for over a month now. That is not an issue at all.” The outfielder remains focused on contributing to the ball club and being a positive influence, something the Dodgers need down the stretch of the regular season.