The Los Angeles Dodgers outfield picture took an unexpected return this season when manager Don Mattingly made the decision to remove Matt Kemp from center field and place him in left.
The move coincided with a five-game benching for Kemp, with his chance to play coming when Carl Crawford, who appeared to be Mattingly’s preferred option in left field, sprained his ankle May 27.
After initial concern Crawford’s sprain would have him out for an extended period of time, he’s recovered quickly and is eyeing a rehab assignment in the near future before returning to the Dodgers.
As Kemp adjusted to life in left field he continued to struggle at the plate. However, he then went 5-for-9 in three games against the Colorado Rockies and said he believes he’s seeing the ball better. Though Crawford isn’t quite ready to return, he expressed frustration with t
They tell us one thing and something else happens. We can’t go by what they say. It’s been frustrating for all of us. We have to be men about the situation and accept what is going on and try to do the best for the team.”
With Kemp’s recent uptick in production, it may push Crawford out of a position, which he also addressed:
I don’t know what I’m going to play when I get back,” Crawford said. “I just don’t really know what my situation is going to be.”
In his career, Crawford has played 54 career games in center field, but not since 2008 when he did so for one game while he was with the Tampa Bay Rays. Platooning with Andre Ethier in the early stages of the season, Crawford struggled to provide much production at the plate.
As he began to settle in with consistent playing time, Crawford became more of a threat in the lineup and was 3-for-7 with two runs scored in his last two games before being injured. Should the group of outfielders get healthy, Mattingly will once again have to juggle the surplus.
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