Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is still aiming for an opening day return… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
PHOENIX -- Dodger outfielder Carl Crawford resumed baseball activities Thursday after taking a week off to rest his surgically repaired left foreman. And it turns out he has a reason other than baseball to get himself ready for opening day, something that remains a realistic -- if fleeting -- goal.
It seems that an intra-squad competition has broken out over walk-up music, the songs players ask the team to play each time they come to the plate to hit.
"You’ve got to get to a song before somebody else gets to it. If you really want to have your own unique song, you’ve got to try to dig deep," Crawford said.
But if he's in the opening day lineup, batting first, Crawford figures that means he should have first choice of music for each of his at-bats.
"A lot of guys, they all like pretty much the same songs, so you’ve got to try to be quick on the song you want to pick," he said. "Hopefully I’ll be at the top of the order. You get first dibs then.”
As for Crawford's rehab from last summer's reconstructive elbow surgery, Thursday he swung a bat for the first time in a week, taking 50 cuts in a batting cage under the watchful eye of the trainers.
"They were standing right there this time. I don’t think I can go into the cage without the trainers," said Crawford, who has already earned a reputation as a tireless worker, leading some on the medical staff to suspect Crawford's recent setback may have been caused by overwork as much as anything else.
Crawford hit off a tee Thursday and said he had no pain. If he comes in Friday feeling the same way, Manager Don Mattingly said he'll probably repeat the workout.
"Carl likes to work. And we feel like it’s what got him in trouble," Mattingly said. "He wanted to go go go. We appreciate the work ethic but we’ve got to just slow him down a little bit."
As for being ready for the start of the season, now less than a month away, Crawford remains optimistic.
"That’s definitely still a goal of mine," he said. "Even with me taking the slow approach, I still have a chance of being ready."
Mattingly, however, has a different goal.
"What we talk about with Carl is once he gets started, we don’t want to have to go backward," he said. "We’d rather him be healthy and be able to put rhythm into the game. That’s where a guy’s going to have a better year. If he plays 10 games and has a setback and has to sit out for two weeks, then he has to rehab, that ends up messing with the season.
"So we’d like him, once he starts playing, whatever date that is, [to] continue forward and not have to go backward. This is, in a sense, a new beginning for Carl. He’d like to get off on a good foot and show everybody he’s going to be ready and all that.
"But that’s OK. Once he gets out there, he can move forward and then he can show everybody what he can do."
Josh Beckett sharp in minor league game
Dodgers' Aaron Harang is fielders' choice as mitt repairman
Carl Crawford to resume training with Dodgers -- cautiously