It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Dodgers have a crowded situation in the outfield. With Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and even Scott Van Slyke, the team has five quality outfielders for three daily spots.
Thus far, manager Don Mattingly has shuffled the lineups everyday based on matchups. This of course creates problems when players need consistent at-bats to do well and players get upset when they sit. Puig and Van Slyke are the only outfielders hitting over .300 and Crawford has fallen to a minuscule .185, prompting his manager to comment on the left fielder’s play.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Mattingly gave his idea on why Crawford has been struggling at the plate recently:
It goes back to, you are what you eat. If you don’t swing at strikes, you’re behind in the count,” said Mattingly. “Maybe he’s pressing to show us he wants more playing time.”
Pressing or not, Crawford is playing himself out of the lineup and could see less time on the field if it continues. The fact that starting caliber players feel the need to change in order to stay on the field is alarming because if all outfielders are pressing, then nobody is confident and that leaves everyone struggling. Puig has seemed to overcome his early deficiencies and has been on a tear lately, while Kemp and Ethier have also failed to get going early in the season. Kemp is coming off two injury-plagued seasons and will need as many at-bats as possible to return to his 2011 form.
Mattingly will soon need to settle on an outfield and try to stick with it for the majority of the games. He cannot afford to continue to rotate and mess with the rhythms of his outfielders. If Crawford is pressing, then the others could soon follow, if they haven’t already.
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