One speck of news that always seems to stick around the Los Angeles Dodgers during this era of new ownership has been the surplus of outfielders. Injuries have at times cut the surplus to just enough depth, which is the current state.
However, with Carl Crawford nearing a return manager Don Mattingly may soon need to again work a balancing act. Bouncing back from a difficult 2014 season, Andre Ethier has been an unsung hero for the Dodgers. He filled in for Yasiel Puig when the Cuban native was sidelined by a hamstring injury, and has since slid over to left field.
Ethier’s play led Mattingly to recently back the veteran outfielder, saying Ethier would remain the starter even once Crawford was activated from the disabled list. While Crawford envisions himself joining the Dodgers earlier than Mattingly does, he doesn’t have issue with his manager’s backing of Ethier, via Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times:
There’s nothing you can say to that,” Crawford stated. “Dre’s been playing really well. Dre supports me, I support him. It’s just what we have to do. It’s for the team right now and I understand that. You won’t hear me gripe about it. I’m going to support the guys. It’s Don’s decision. When it’s my turn, it’s my turn.”
Both Crawford and Ethier have seen various shifts in playing time during their tenure together as Dodgers. Crawford started 80 games in left field last season, before injuries derailed his year. Ethier only started 11 games in left field in 2014, and was the odd man out once Mattingly settled on Crawford in left, Puig in center and Matt Kemp in right field.
After appearing in a few Class-A Rancho Cucamonga games last week, Crawford joined Triple-A Oklahoma City for Sunday’s game, as was expected. He served as the designated hitter and went 3-for-4, including hitting one double. Crawford followed it up with a 1-for-3 effort Monday with one walk and a run scored.