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MLB opening day: Carl Crawford has strong debut for Dodgers

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Crawford doubled, singled, and scored a run in the Dodgers' 4-0 victory over the Giants on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

USA TODAY Sports

Somewhat lost in the euphoria of Clayton Kershaw's magnificent performance against the Giants on Monday was the presence at the top of the lineup in Carl Crawford. The speedy left-hander had two hits, including a double, out of the leadoff spot in the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Giants on opening day at Dodger Stadium.

Crawford, while recovering from Tommy John surgery, played in just 10 spring training games. But it was enough to show manager Don Mattingly that he was ready for opening day.

"Toward the end of spring training you saw his timing come in, and he's been getting his hits. He had some real good at-bats," Mattingly said. "Early in spring training he'd be hitting off pitchers on a field with nobody around, and really bearing down on his at-bats."

Crawford hit .357/.419/.464 in those 10 Cactus League games, with three walks. He picked up right where he left off on Monday, though he was too aggressive in the first inning. With one out, Crawford was thrown out trying to steal third base with left-hander Adrian Gonzalez up, giving catcher Buster Posey an easy opportunity to erase Crawford.

"We'll continue to talk about situations going forward. We'll continue to make sure we're working on when," said Mattingly. "We're going to keep working on when to run and when not to. Carl's pretty much on his own but we'll continue to talk about that."

Despite the ill-advised out on the bases, Mattingly likes the aggression and dynamic play from his leadoff hitter. Crawford followed Kershaw's home run in the eighth inning with a double, and scored the second of four runs in the inning

"Carl has a chance to really change us. This guy can really go. I've seen this cat for a few years in the American League," Mattingly said. "This guy if we can keep him healthy and he's in a good place, we're going to see something electric out of him."