Carl Crawford will be on the bench when he rejoins the Dodgers this week, Manager Don Mattingly indicated Wednesday.
The Dodgers have ascended to first place in the National League West behind a stabilized outfield of Matt Kemp in left field, Andre Ethier in center and Yasiel Puig in right. Mattingly said he would speak with Crawford about his role but said he “is not really planning any big changes” and said the Dodgers have played better with a set outfield.
“Everybody is happier,” Mattingly said. “They don’t have to come to the ballpark looking for the lineup card.”
Mattingly said Crawford bears no blame for the situation.
“Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” Mattingly said.
However, Kemp is batting .289 since becoming the everyday left fielder May 28, when the Dodgers put Crawford on the disabled list.
Is there any thought of moving Kemp back to center field?
“Not right now,” Mattingly said.
Could Crawford play another position?
“Carl pretty much plays left,” Mattingly said.
A left-field platoon would not appear in order, at least based on this year’s statistics. Crawford, who bats left-handed, is batting .272 against right-handers. Kemp, who bats right-handed, is batting .298 against right-handers.
The Dodgers are paying Crawford $20.25 million this season and owe him another $62.25 million through 2017. It is unclear how Crawford, a four-time All-Star, will react to a bench role. He said last month that he had no idea what his role might be upon his return and expressed frustration over the uncertainty.
“I don’t know what I’m going to play when I get back,” Crawford said then. “I just don’t really know what my situation is going to be.”
Crawford, 32, is batting .267 with four home runs in 44 games this season, with a .293 on-base percentage. As a pinch-hitter, Crawford is 0 for 5 this season and 4 for 35 (.114) in his career.
He went 5 for 11 on a four-game minor league rehabilitation assignment at triple-A Albuquerque. He is scheduled to be evaluated in Los Angeles on Wednesday and could be activated as soon as Thursday.