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Dodgers' Carl Crawford may not be ready by opening day

March 01, 2013|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Carl Crawford will sit out at least a week of spring training games because of nerve irritation following his Tommy John elbow surgery.
Carl Crawford will sit out at least a week of spring training games because… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)

Nothing like turning a smile upside down in a hurry.

Just as the Dodgers were letting themselves get happy Friday over Matt Kemp’s first scheduled appearance in a game this spring, news came that the “pause” in Carl Crawford’s comeback was now an official setback.

Manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Phoenix that Crawford was being shut down for a week because of nerve irritation following his Tommy John elbow surgery and that it challenged his being available by opening day.

This is what you call bad news, even if not all that surprising, and underscores the team’s lack of a designated fourth outfielder.

If Crawford cannot go by the opener, then right now the Dodgers are likely looking at a left-fielder by committee. And Crawford was scheduled to be the team’s main leadoff hitter.

Mattingly said Crawford will not hit or throw for at least a week, and be on anti-inflammatory medication. He had his ligament transfer surgery last August, so this is not a player who doesn’t need spring training to prove ready by opening day.

“I think it challenges opening day a little bit,” Mattingly said. “[But] I don’t think it’s out of the question.”

Mattingly said the nerve irritation does not specifically involve the left elbow ligament and was not uncommon for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

“It’s something that they want to calm down totally,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t seem to be any kind of panic with Carl. More just still being cautious. Obviously, you have to look at this as being a little bit more of a setback.”

Crawford is still owed $107.7 million over the next five seasons, so there’s more at stake here than simply having him ready by the opener. That was, however, the original plan.

“Opening day would be great,” Mattingly said. “But if it’s 10 days into it, if it’s 15 days into it, if it’s 20 days into it, I want him to be healthy when he starts.”

Meanwhile, Kemp was scheduled to make his first appearance in a spring game as the designated hitter. He’s coming off off-season shoulder surgery.

And, sticking with the recovering outfielder theme, Andre Ethier was scratched from the lineup Friday because the blister on the palm of his right hand, the same one that dogged him during the stretch last season, has resurfaced.

Mattingly said it was more precautionary stuff and Ethier could go if needed, but it has to be a tad troubling to re-emerge so quickly.

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