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Dodgers' Carl Crawford has simple reason for fewer stolen bases

Crawford, who has stolen at least 50 bases in a season five times, has stolen 13 in his first full season as a Dodger. He says a better lineup now means he can just steal 'when it is important.'

August 31, 2013|By Bill Shaikin
  • Four-time American League stolen-base champion Carl Crawford, shown sliding safely past San Diego catcher Nick Hundley on Friday, has only 13 for the Dodgers this season.
Four-time American League stolen-base champion Carl Crawford, shown… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

In 2009, Carl Crawford stole 60 bases. He has stolen at least 50 bases five times.

In his first full season with the Dodgers, he has stolen 13 bases. He turns 32 this week, and he has been on the disabled list with hamstring injuries in each of the last two years.

His days of leading the league in stolen bases might be over — he is a four-time American League stolen-base champion — but Crawford said he has not lost the speed to steal 50 bases.

"I've been having issues with my hamstrings lately, so it's good I don't have to run so much," he said. "When the situation calls for it, I can steal a base. That's all that matters to me, that I can steal a base when I want to.

"It's good to put up numbers, but stealing third with no meaning makes no sense to me anymore. It was fun back when I was younger. I try to steal a base when it is important."

He did not apologize for the years that were packed with stolen bases. He played for the Tampa Bay Rays then, and the Rays lost at least 90 games for the first six of his nine seasons there.

"If we didn't steal bases in Tampa, we didn't win," Crawford said. "We didn't have this kind of lineup. You've got guys up and down the lineup that can drive you in. You don't want to run into outs. You have to take that into consideration.

"In Tampa, even our slow guys were running. That was how we played — and won — games."

Kemp 'isn't comfortable'

After center fielder Matt Kemp went hitless in his first eight minor league at-bats, with one ball out of the infield, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said Kemp might be asked to continue his rehabilitation assignment beyond Sunday.

Kemp is expected to be the designated hitter for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday and Sunday. Mattingly said Kemp has not reported any discomfort in his injured left ankle.

"Baseball-wise, he isn't comfortable yet," Mattingly said. "I don't think we're worried about center field. His timing doesn't sound very good yet."

Kemp has not played since he sprained the ankle July 21. Mattingly said Kemp would not want to return until he can contribute and said the minor league struggles were not overly concerning given his prolonged layoff.

"It's hard to jump in there at 94-95 [mph] when you haven't seen it regularly," Mattingly said.

Puig pitches in

As the Dodgers dressed for batting practice, Skip Schumaker escorted Oscar Juarez around the clubhouse. Oscar is 7, and he has leukemia. A pediatric cancer charity had arranged the visit, and several players greeted Oscar and his 5-year-old brother.

Schumaker introduced the boys to Yasiel Puig, who immediately dropped to his knees so he could take a picture with his arms around them. The boys moved along, but soon Puig came chasing after them, so he could give them each a pair of batting gloves.

Then, after the boys headed onto the field to watch batting practice, Puig found them and charged over one more time, this time to give them an autographed bat.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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