Crawford took live batting practice on Monday, and is getting close to returning, as is Kemp, who will take BP on Tuesday.
The Dodgers got good news on Monday as Carl Crawford took live batting practice for the first time since his elbow surgery in August. That is to say, he faced a live pitcher on the mound. Crawford also took regular batting practice as well. Matt Kemp plans to do the same on Tuesday.
"That was good. It felt good," Crawford said. "It was the first time I really got to swing in a while."
Manager Don Mattingly, who threw to Crawford during regular batting practice, said Crawford was getting closer to playing in spring training games.
"I'm sure the trainers have all kinds of boxes they need to check off before he can play in a game. As soon as he gets there, he'll get a chance to play in a game," Mattingly said. "We talked about the first. That's always been our date. We're hoping around the first for those guys."
But this tweet from Jon Heyman popped up at 12:05 p.m. PT, with much more specificity:
Plan is for carl crawford (elbow) to play 1st game thursday and matt kemp (shoulder) friday or saturday. Both will dh.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 25, 2013
That was news to Mattingly after the game.
"Really? I haven't heard that yet, but if Jon Heyman says it it's true," Mattingly quipped.
But things got even stranger during the postgame when Heyman, who was at Camelback Ranch on Monday and wrote about Zack Greinke, happened to walk by as we were interviewing Mattingly.
The manager playfully asked Heyman, "When are we playing Carl and Matt?"
Heyman, laughing, replied, "Thursday, and Friday or Saturday. Is that right?"
I'm not sure how Heyman was so specific, then was asking whether or not he was correct. Color me confused.
What we do know is that the Dodgers are targeting a return for Crawford and Kemp around Friday if everything goes right. The Dodgers just happen to play two games on Friday, with a split squad at home against the Padres and one in Tempe against the Angels. That means two opportunities to use the designated hitter.
So don't be surprised if you see Crawford or Kemp in a game by the weekend, or maybe before. But nothing specific has yet been set.