Carl Crawford was on the disabled list for six weeks that felt like an eternity. When he was activated Thursday, he found himself waiting some more.
He was there when Clayton Kershaw served up the a sixth-inning solo home run that ended his scoreless streak at 41 innings. He was still there when Kershaw struck out Rene Rivera to finish his second complete game of the season.
A four-time All-Star with about $70 million remaining on his contract, Crawford could have complained about his situation, even asked for a trade. He didn't.
"I understood it," Crawford said.
In a meeting Thursday afternoon, Crawford was informed by Manager Don Mattingly that he probably would have a lot more days like this one in the near future.
The Dodgers are back in first place and Mattingly has no intention to change course. They dropped to 5 1/2 games back of the San Francisco Giants on the day Crawford landed on the disabled list with a sprained left ankle. The deficit increased to as much as 9 1/2 games. They now have a one-game lead.
"Things have been going well for the team right now, so he pretty much said he's going to leave it as it is right now and kind of mix me in whenever he can," Crawford said. "There's not too much I can say to that. Guys have been playing extremely well and got back into first place. I just have to be ready for when my number's called and try to stay sharp enough so I can play well for when I do get in the game."
"It's a situation where we're winning, so you definitely don't want to be the guy who's complaining about dumb stuff," Crawford said. "I'm not that guy. I just want to be here to cheer everyone on."
This is Crawford's 13th season in the major leagues. He understands how one disgruntled player can affect the entire team.
"I definitely don't want to do that because that definitely takes a toll on the rest of the guys, when there's one guy complaining about playing time and stuff like that," he said.
The overcrowding in the outfield was a source of clubhouse tension earlier in the season. But Crawford said Mattingly's candor about his situation makes this easier to accept.
"I think that was a problem early on, coming to the field early and guys just not knowing," Crawford said. "Now, I think people now know what's going on."
Mattingly appreciated how Crawford received his message, but wasn't surprised.
"Obviously, Carl is a guy that wants to play," Mattingly said. "But at this point, he sees what's going on, we've been playing well. At the end of the day, I think guys want to get to the postseason and have a chance to win it all. ... He's played long enough to know this season is long, there's going to be guys are going to get banged up."
The Dodgers have three more games until the All-Star break. They will resume their schedule with a nine-game trip that includes stops in St. Louis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.
"We have a nasty little month coming at us," Mattingly said. "We start it with a tough road trip and we're going to need everybody."
Crawford understands his situation could change in an instant. Kemp and Ethier have had injury problems. Puig is always crashing into something.
"Just like I twisted my ankle quick, something can happen to anybody else," Crawford said. "Not that I'm wishing for that to happen to anybody, but just in case it does, I want to be ready when it's my time to step in."
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