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Injury issues in outfield raise concern in Dodgers camp

Left fielder Carl Crawford is out at least a week because of nerve irritation in his left arm, and right fielder Andre Ethier is sidelined by a blister.

March 01, 2013|By Kevin Baxter
  • Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford will be out at least a week because of nerve irritation in his left arm.
Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford will be out at least a week because of… (Rob Tringali / Getty Images )

PHOENIX — Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly was asked this week what his biggest worry was with the team's projected $230-million roster.

"Health is always a good place to start," he said. "Are we going to be able to stay healthy?"

Less than 24 hours after Mattingly confessed his fears, the Dodgers were without two-thirds of their starting outfield. Carl Crawford will be out at a least a week with nerve irritation in his surgically repaired left arm. Andre Ethier was scratched from Friday's split-squad game in Tempe because of a blister on his right hand, a malady similar to what bothered him last summer.

It wasn't all bad news, though. Matt Kemp played for the first time since off-season surgery on his left shoulder. He grounded out and struck out looking in two at-bats as the designated hitter in a 7-5 split-squad loss against the San Diego Padres at Camelback Ranch.

When Kemp pronounced himself pain-free afterward, the team's focus shifted to Crawford, whose availability for the season opener April 1 is in doubt.

"Obviously, you have to look at this as being a little bit more of a setback," Mattingly said. "When his season starts, I want him to feel like he's ready. Not playing at 60% or 80%. Opening day would be great. But ... I want him to be healthy when he starts."

Crawford had surgery on his left wrist 14 months ago, then underwent season-ending Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery last August, days before being traded to the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox. He returned to Los Angeles on Thursday to see team doctor Neal ElAttrache, who prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine and rest.

The Dodgers characterized Crawford's problem as minor and said it's common following reconstructive elbow surgery. The repaired ligament is not involved, the team said.

Crawford considered that diagnosis a relief. "You have a little certain feeling that you never felt before in your arm, you get worried," he said. "I think I just overworked it."

If Crawford begins the season on the disabled list, the Dodgers, barring a trade, probably would choose a substitute from a list of candidates that includes Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston and Alex Castellanos. Schumaker, 33, has played most of his career at second base; Hairston, 36, is coming off hip surgery; Castellanos, 26, a .294 hitter in five minor league seasons, batted .174 in a 16-game big league trial last summer.

Without Crawford, the Dodgers also need a leadoff hitter. They used Mark Ellis there for part of last year and he hit .265 with a .307 on-base percentage.

As for Ethier, his problem is not considered serious. Mattingly said he rested the outfielder, whose right palm was covered by a protective wrap, to allow the blister a chance to dry out, keeping it from "turn[ing] into what it turned into last year." Ethier is expected to play in Saturday's spring game against the Seattle Mariners.

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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