Carl Crawford excited to join Dodgers, plans to be ready by spring training

Carl Crawford meets the media in Los Angeles for the first time since joining the Dodgers - Eric Stephen | True Blue LA

Carl Crawford met with the media in Los Angeles for the first time Friday, and said his recovery from Tommy John surgery is going well.

It's hard for a player with five years and $102.5 million remaining on his contract to go relatively unnoticed, but that was Carl Crawford since he was acquired from the Red Sox on Aug. 25. The left fielder met the media at Dodger Stadium on Friday, two months and one day after he was acquired.

"I got so excited, coming to a team playing with other great players. Matt Kemp; I've known Andre Ethier for a while," Crawford said. "From what I hear this is a team that wants to really win the championship, and it's definitely built to do so."

Crawford was limited to just 161 games combined in his first two seasons in Boston, and hit just .260/.292/.419 after signing for seven years and $142 million before the 2011 season.

"Last year (2011) for me was the worst year of my whole career. I didn't seem to have one good day. I just couldn't get it going," Crawford said. "That offseason was one of the lowest I've had in my whole life. It took a lot for me to come back and start all over. I felt like myself this year, other than the elbow."

The elbow was a problem for Crawford all of 2012. After he underwent offseason wrist surgery, he had elbow discomfort during spring training and opened the season on the disabled list. In the first month of the season he met with Dr. James Andrews, who advised that Crawford would need Tommy John surgery. But Crawford decided to try to play, and managed 31 games before he was shutdown again. Crawford had the surgery on Aug. 23, just two days before he was traded to the Dodgers.

"Nobody said I should keep playing. That was just me, saying, 'I'm not sitting on y'all's money'," Crawford said. "I wasn't performing well but I worked hard every day to get ready to play. I know Boston is a hard working, blue collar town, and I just wanted to have that same attitude. At the end of the day, I probably should have just listened to the doctors."

Recovering from surgery this offseason should help Crawford fit right in, as he joins the bevy of Dodgers on the mend this winter.

Crawford won't be able to swing a bat or throw a ball until January. "It will be a while before I get to have fun," he said.

But Crawford, like Matt Kemp, expects to be ready by spring training.

"Rehab is going really well. Right now I'm ahead of schedule. I'm shooting for spring training, that's definitely a goal of mine," Crawford said.

"I don't think (the elbow surgery) will affect me too much at the plate. I'll be able to come back faster than a pitcher might," he said. "If I was able to throw with the pain that I had at first, I should be able to hit the cutoff man."

Crawford said he was surprised when he heard of his trade to the Dodgers. Though his time didn't work out in Boston, Crawford wouldn't change anything.

"You grow older and learn. You have to take on new challenges and see what works for you. I'd do it over again if I had to," he said. "I'm a competitive guy. I hate to say I failed at something. But you can't win all the time. ... I definitely have a lot of baseball left in me. It's good to get a second chance."

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General manager Ned Colletti touched on a few topics on Friday as well.

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He said he has an idea of how the shortstop and third base positions will be filled to start next year, but said before Halloween is too early to set anything in stone. Colletti said Hanley Ramirez will play shortstop in winter league ball.

"I'm not going to rule out Dee Gordon. But I'm not going to anoint him either," Colletti said. "We have some options over there."

Smart money is on Luis Cruz opening and third base and Ramirez at shortstop, but we are still four months away from spring training. Colletti said it was unlikely that the Dodgers would pursue a shortstop or third baseman from outside the organization, and that pitching was his main focus of the offseason.

Colletti said he was encouraged by early discussions with free agent reliever Brandon League.

Ace starter Clayton Kershaw has one more year left on his contract and one more year of arbitration eligibility after that, but it's never too early to talk contract extension. Colletti said a long-term extension for Kershaw, 24, will be considered this winter, but that he has not yet had any talks with Kershaw or his agent about a deal.

The Dodgers haven't yet filled their hitting coach position, left vacant when Dave Hansen was dismissed on Oct. 12. Colletti said he has spoken with a few candidates, but that Mickey Hatcher, who was hired as a special assistant last season after getting let go by the Angels, is not one of them.

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