For the first nine years of his career, Carl Crawford played for the Tampa Bay Rays on the unforgiving artificial turf at Tropicana Field. He went on the disabled list once, when he yanked a tendon out of place on a swing, an injury that could have happened no matter what field his team called home.
In the six subsequent years, Crawford has been on the disabled list seven times — twice because of a hamstring injury, once each because of injuries to his back, wrist, elbow, hamstring and oblique. In that span, he has played for the Boston Red Sox and the Dodgers, teams that play on grass.
Crawford insisted the turf took its toll, even if he avoided the disabled list for the most part.
“I played real aggressively on turf for nine years,” he said. “I’m lucky I’m still walking the way I’m walking now. I’m still walking, at least.”
Crawford averaged 147 games in each of his full seasons with the Rays. He has averaged 90 games since then.
“I played through a lot of stuff,” he said. “You’re young. You don’t think about it. You’re 24, 25 years old. Your body can hold up a little better than at 34, 35.”
Crawford is 34. His seven-year, $142-million contract expires after next season. He said he has not decided whether he wants to play beyond then.
“One day at a time,” he said.
The Dodgers activated Crawford from the disabled list Tuesday and started him in left field.
Manager Dave Roberts, mindful of what he called Crawford’s “propensity to get injured,” said the optimal playing time for Crawford would be three or four times per week.
“The idea of running him out there ‘til he breaks is not something I believe in,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers’ next trip takes them to Tampa Bay and Toronto, homes to the only turf fields left in the major leagues.
Scott Kazmir is ready to go
The Dodgers plan to start Scott Kazmir on Wednesday, although he did not throw in the bullpen between starts. Kazmir has been bothered by soreness at the base of his left thumb and into his left wrist, and he left the clubhouse after his last start wearing a brace on his left hand.
Instead of throwing a bullpen session this week, Roberts said, Kazmir threw twice on flat ground. The Dodgers could have given Zach Lee a spot start and given Kazmir a few extra days to rest or throw a bullpen session.
Instead, the Dodgers returned Lee to triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday, clearing a roster spot for Crawford. Roberts said he trusted Kazmir, an 11-year veteran.
“You’ve got to give guys like that the benefit of the doubt,” Roberts said. “When a player like that says he’s ready to make his start, we’ve got to take him at his word.”
Kazmir pitched six scoreless innings in his first start but, over his subsequent three starts, he has given up 14 runs in 13 innings.
Roberts said the Dodgers might skip rookie Ross Stripling in the rotation next week, when they have two days off. The Dodgers would like to conserve Stripling’s innings this season, his first full season since elbow ligament-replacement surgery. Stripling has said he expects the team to limit him to 125 to 150 innings; the team has not publicly disclosed a target.