Crawford injured his ankle May 27 chasing down a double off the bat of Reds outfielder Chris Heisey and returned Thursday. With Yasiel Puig entrenched as the starter in right field, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke took turns playing left and center in Crawford's absence.
Injury woes have haunted Crawford for the last few years. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2012, and questions have been tossed around since about his arm strength.
But Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly downplayed the importance of a powerful arm.
"How many guys do you see get thrown out on the bases?" Mattingly asked. "It’s really more about range and getting to balls, and Carl still runs really well. I think metrically he’s been pretty good in left field when he plays left, so he’s a guy that will run the ball down for you."
Mattingly said Crawford has learned to take advantage of his other skills since having the ligament reconstruction surgery.
"You use your speed in different ways," Mattingly said. "That means in case you don’t throw well, you get to the ball quicker. You use your speed to cut down that time, and you get rid of it quickly, and then you learn, you practice to be accurate. There’s all different ways to make adjustments in the outfield. It’s not always arm strength. It’s how you use the tools that you have, maybe not perfect, but he’s got enough tools to be able to do something."
Crawford might have the tools, but it remains to be seen how much playing time he'll get in which to use them.
One thing Mattingly did establish before Saturday's game was that he respects Crawford.
"Carl’s been great," Mattingly said. "I remember his first comment in spring training was that he was going to get ready to play and play, and so it makes it easier for me."
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