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Carl Crawford injury: Dodgers won't rush back left fielder during spring

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Crawford, recovering from Tommy John surgery, will miss at least the first week of Cactus League games. Crawford is expected to play mostly as designated hitter once he starts playing spring contests.

USA TODAY Sports

On the eve of the Dodgers' Cactus League opener against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch, manager Don Mattingly talked about a player who wouldn't be in his opening lineup on Saturday. Carl Crawford is still on the mend from Tommy John surgery, and the Dodgers won't rush their left fielder back into action.

Crawford, like Matt Kemp, who is himself recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, is planning to be ready to play by opening day. Mattingly thinks Crawford will be back by then, too, but he isn't going to rush his left fielder into action.

Mattingly was asked if there was a specific number of games he needed to see Crawford play in the field during spring training in order for the outfielder to be ready for opening day on Apr. 1.

"Enough for him to be comfortable is the number for me. If this guy would get to be where he's not comfortable and it's April 1, then I'd rather it be April 5, or April 10. Whatever that day is that he's ready to roll is what I'd like it to be," Mattingly said. "I don't want to force it opening day. If he's not ready, then he's involved in, say 155 games instead of 162. We just want him when he's ready, but we think he'll be ready."

Crawford had surgery on his left elbow on Aug. 23, two days before he was traded by the Red Sox to the Dodgers. Mattingly said on Monday that both Crawford and Kemp would miss at least the first week of Cactus League games.

Crawford is able to hit and participate in most workouts, but he is limited in throwing drills and hasn't yet thrown beyond 90 feet. Mattingly said Crawford when he does begin playing during spring games will likely be the designated hitter, at least to start.

"He'll be able to do all kinds of work, off the bat and different things," Mattingly said. "I know he wants to get out there a little bit to feel comfortable, to get back where you are in the flow a little bit."