Oft-injured Carl Crawford wants to be Dodgers' feel-good story in 2015

Oft-injured Carl Crawford wants to be Dodgers' feel-good story in 2015
Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford hasn't played more than 130 games in a season since 2010, when he was with Tampa Bay. (John Locher / Associated Press)

Carl Crawford is in his third spring training with the Dodgers, but he still can't stop thinking about his previous team.

"I know I'm going to get defined by what happened to me in the couple of years I was in Boston," he said.


The prize of his free-agent class, Crawford signed a seven-year, $142-million contract with the Red Sox leading up to the 2011 season. He was with them for two unhealthy and unproductive seasons in which their fans turned on him, his misery ending only because he was traded to the Dodgers as part of a four-player package that included Adrian Gonzalez.

"That really irritates me a lot, the thinking that I was a guy that got paid his money and wanted to shut it down," he said. "It's just so irritating to me because I never was that person. I always played to win games and be the best player I can be."

Crawford thinks he has to win a World Series with the Dodgers to alter his legacy.

"That's all you can do," he said. "That shuts everybody up. You have to win the World Series at the end of the day. Until that happens, I really can't say much. I want to be able to go out there and play and help the team win a championship."

Crawford is upbeat, in large part because he was healthy over the winter for the first time in several years.

"I was able to train like I did before I started getting injured all the time," he said. "Instead of holding back on certain stuff, I was able to do everything this off-season."

He lifted more weights. He ran more.

His hope is that what he did in the winter will result in an injury-free season.

If not, Crawford said, "I know I have to hear from you guys how I get hurt all the time."

Crawford played in only 105 games last season because of an ankle problem. The season before that, hamstring and back problems limited him to 116 games. The last time he played more than 130 games was in 2010, with the Tampa Bay Rays.

He said he feels a greater responsibility to remain on the field because of the departures of Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez.

"I know other people are going to have to step up," he said.

When Crawford was on the field last season, he certainly looked capable, batting .300, stealing 23 bases and establishing himself as Manager Don Mattingly's first-choice left fielder.

Crawford is again projected to play every day in left field, with Yasiel Puig in right and rookie Joc Pederson in center.


Crawford thinks the Dodgers will be counting on him not only to stay on the field, but to provide speed in a lineup that lost two major power threats in Kemp and Ramirez.

"I was doing it last year," he said. "I just got hurt. I was well on my way to steal over 30 bags last year. And now I feel better than I did last year. The running game has always been a part of my thing. I can't shy away from it."

Crawford turns 34 in August but, he said, "I know I'm still faster than 70% of the league. It's nothing for me to be concerned about."

Crawford said he was excited when the Dodgers hired Andrew Friedman to be their president of baseball operations. Crawford played for the Rays when Friedman was their general manager. Together, they helped turn the small-market Rays into an American League power.

"Hopefully, he can bring the magic over here," Crawford said.

Based on what Friedman prioritized with the Rays, Crawford said he wasn't surprised the Dodgers made efforts to improve their defense this winter by adding the likes of Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick.

Even though Friedman made sweeping changes to the Dodgers roster, Crawford never thought he would be traded.

"I knew it was hard for teams to want to trade for me because of my salary and because I've been hurt a lot," he said.

Crawford is guaranteed $62.25 million over the next three seasons.

While Crawford said he understood the reasoning behind Friedman's moves, he said he isn't certain they made the Dodgers a better team.

"We had two good teams," he said. "It's something we'll have to wait and see. I can't answer that right now. We have to see if this team can even get to the playoffs."

Twitter: @dylanohernandez