Carl Crawford restarted his rehabilitation on Thursday morning and though the process will be slow, the Dodgers left fielder hasn't yet given up hope that he'll be ready to play on opening day.
"I haven't accepted (missing opening day) at all. That's definitely still a goal of mine," Crawford said on Thursday. "Even with the slower approach I still have a chance of being ready on time."
Crawford took 50 swings in the batting cage off a tee on Thursday morning, his first baseball activity in a week after getting shut down with minor nerve irritation in his left arm. Crawford had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow on Aug. 23, and has yet to play in a spring training game.
There is no timetable for Crawford to return to game action, as the Dodgers will take it slowly with his rehab. Crawford will take another 50 swings in the cage on Friday, and see how his arm reacts before moving on to any kind of throwing.
"It will be more of the same tomorrow. They'll stay with the hitting for the most part, making sure that's working out, and then we'll move back into the throwing," said manager Don Mattingly. "If we get any kind of flare ups, we'll know what's causing it."
Crawford took all his swings Thursday under the watchful eye of team trainers, who will be following his every move.
"They are standing right there. I don't think I can go in the cage without the trainers," Crawford said, laughing.
Part of the concern by the Dodgers with Crawford is that he will try to rush back in an attempt to be ready by Apr. 1.
"Carl likes to work, and we feel like that's what got him in trouble. He wanted to go go go," Mattingly said. "We appreciate the work ethic, but we have to slow him down a little bit."
Even though he still plans to return by opening day, Crawford can appreciate the structured slow pace of his rehab.
"That's why I'm not throwing today, because we don't really know what irritated it. We're trying to do things slowly and maybe we can find out where it came from. It was probably a combination of multiple things," Crawford said. "When I tried to rush it, it flared up. I'm going to try to be a little more patient. That way I won't have to go through sitting out for another week again. I'll be more patient and stick to the program."
Mattingly reiterated what he has said pretty much all spring regarding Crawford, that he would rather have his left fielder fully ready to return before he plays rather than try to force an opening day comeback.
"(Crawford wanting to play opening day) is fine with me. But within that same conversation, it has to be that he has to be ready. If he's not ready opening day but is on April 10, then it's April 10," Mattingly said. "What we talk about with Carl is once he gets started, we don't want to go backwards. We'd rather him be healthy and be able to put rhythm into the game. That's when a guy has a better year.
"This is in a sense a new beginning for Carl. He'd like to get off on a good foot and show everybody he's ready and all that, but that's okay. Once he gets out there, then we can move forward, and then he can show everyone what he can do."