Suffice to say, the Los Angeles Dodgers did not have the Spring Training they envisioned under first-year manager Dave Roberts. Injuries to several key contributors throughout camp forced the Dodgers to adjust and readjust their plans heading into the 2016 season.
That was particularly true in left field, where Andre Ethier was named the primary starter in early March. However, Ethier then sustained a fractured right tibia after a fouling a pitch off his leg.
With Ethier out of the picture, Roberts indicated he was likely to platoon Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke in left field. Both players are coming off somewhat of a down season, and one in which they battled injury.
Crawford’s was more serious as a torn oblique forced him to the 60-day disabled list. He’s looking to put that behind him and will have the help of Roberts, who is mindful of Crawford’s health. “Addressing his body, I think he’s in a pretty good spot right now, and I think he’s mindful of where he’s at,” Roberts said prior to the Freeway Series opener.
“I think he understands his role on the team as far as he isn’t going to play 140 games for us. It’s my job to monitor his health. … Skill-wise, I know when he plays and is healthy, he performs. We have to really be mindful of not playing him too much and keeping him fresh.”
At the time of Ethier getting the nod in left field, Crawford admitted to some disappointment, but reiterated he would fill whatever role asked of him. It’s a message Crawford has consistently shared with his manager.
“As far as his head, he’s told me numerous times he’ll do whatever I ask of him. That’s always good to hear from a veteran player,” said Roberts, while going on to explain he’ll utilize Crawford as a starter against right-handed pitching and expressing confidence the veteran outfielder can succeed in a pinch-hitter role in other cases.
Last season, Crawford batted .265/.304/.403 while appearing in 69 games. He was the subject of trade rumors during the winter, though his contract makes completing a deal an uphill battle.