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Scott Van Slyke placed on DL, stretching Dodgers outfield depth thin

Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers needed to make room for the return of both Yasmani Grandal and Howie Kendrick on Monday, and to do so they placed outfielder Scott Van Slyke on the 15-day disabled list with lower back irritation.

The move is retroactive to Sunday, so the earliest Van Slyke could be activated is April 25.

"We took some pictures, and there was something going on in his back," manager Dave Roberts said. "In two weeks he should be fine, but we took the move to be aggressive to put him on the disabled list because he'd be out five, six, seven days."

Van Slyke left Saturday's game after just three innings with lower back tightness, felt both in the field and on a swing while batting.

"He took a funky swing. When you're dealing with the back, it's the core and that's the scary thing," Roberts said. "We have a long way to go, but I like to head things off and nip it.

"For me, it's always easier for the manager to take it out of the player's hands. I'd rather err on the side of caution, especially when we have the depth we have, instead of playing with 24 or 23 guys for the next few days or however long it might be."

Fellow outfielder Carl Crawford was placed on the disabled list on Saturday, also with lower back tightness, but did not have an MRI exam on Monday as originally planned. That decision, like the one to place Van Slyke on the DL, was a medical decision, said Roberts.

"The medical group decided against it for the time being," Roberts said. "I talked to [Crawford] this morning and he feels fine. When that 15th day is, he'll be ready to go."

Crawford is eligible to return from the DL on April 24.

Until then the club will roll with outfielders Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Trayce Thompson, plus Kiké Hernandez. But that group could include Howie Kendrick, who was just activated from the DL on Tuesday.

"We talked when Howie re-signed with us, he was open to play outfield," Roberts said. "I think we might dip into that well."

Kendrick in spring training played some third base, a position he hasn't played since 2006, with the idea that he and Chase Utley would each see time at multiple positions rather than just second base. Kendrick last started in left field in 2011 with the Angels, starting 20 games. He played 26 total games at the position from 2011-2013.