Friday, July 5, 2013

Crawford returns, so the outfield logjam is upon us

Carl Crawford has been activated from the 15-day DL, where he spent just over a month with a strained left hamstring.  He takes the spot of Scott Van Slyke, who will go back to Triple-A Albuquerque as a victim of the numbers game.

Crawford started off the year as a big spark in the leadoff spot, hitting .308 with four homers and four steals in April.  Injuries here and there slowed him down some since then, as he only appeared in one game in June before hitting the DL.  Still, he's at .301 with 32 runs scored, so he'll look to pick things back up in his old spot.

Of course, getting his old spot back everyday is not a given, as Don Mattingly now has his hands full with Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier all healthy in the outfield.  It's a good problem to have, but no matter what, someone with big talent (and a bigger contract) will have to sit at the start of each game.  As a matter of fact, it's Crawford who will sit out Friday night's game in San Francisco.

There's no way Puig will sit at all with the way he's set the world on fire, so that leaves three guys for two spots.  Kemp is slowly getting his power back with two homers in his last two games, so it's hard to yank him.  And as much as Ethier has struggled at the plate this year, he did pick it up some in June at .261, his most productive month.  Plus, he deserves a lot of credit for playing all three outfield positions very, very well.

With the way Crawford and Kemp have been banged up this year, and dating back into last as well, I don't expect them to be locks to play everyday.  Ethier probably will get the least amount of starts, but if there's one thing the Dodgers know, it's that injuries happen at any moment.  Even Puig is nursing a sore left leg from crashing into the wall in Colorado, so maybe he'll soon need some rest.

Van Slyke is an easy player to like, as he's a power threat.  But in 13 games in June, he's hitting only .185 with a couple homers.  I like his future, and you know he'll be back in an instant if there's another injury, or when rosters are expanded in September.  Keep an eye out for him.

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