Crawford next on 'Who plays center field?'

July, 12, 2014
7/12/14
5:48
PM PT
LOS ANGELES -- The center-field auditions continue. Next up is Carl Crawford, who hasn't played the position on a consistent basis since he was 22 years old in 2004, but has begun taking fly balls there.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said it could give the Dodgers one more option. They have already tried Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke at the position and none has played at a high enough level defensively to hold down the spot permanently. The team apparently isn’t ready to promote one of its top prospects, Joc Pederson, a Triple-A All-Star center fielder.

"[Crawford] played it in the minor leagues," Mattingly said. "In our situation, there’s nothing wrong with him going out and taking fly balls. You never know what could happen."

Crawford started 25 games in center for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004. Since then, he has started a grand total of 10 games there. Crawford is the fastest of the Dodgers' center-field candidates but has the weakest arm.

Ethier started in center Saturday, but Mattingly said that doesn't necessarily mean he has returned to playing consistently against right-handed pitchers. It probably has more to do with Ethier's .313 batting average and four extra-base hits in 32 at-bats against San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy.

Rotation alignment: Mattingly also announced the Dodgers' rotation coming out of the All-Star break: Dan Haren, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and, if he's healthy, Josh Beckett. Mattingly wouldn't say so, but the reason for that order is so that Greinke, Kershaw and Ryu would be lined up for the Dodgers' series in San Francisco July 25-27.

ASG request: Mattingly said he exchanged a few text messages with National League manager Mike Matheny, but isn't sure yet whether Kershaw will start the All-Star Game. He said he expressed some preferences to Matheny about how Kershaw is used in the game. The Dodgers would prefer he pitch two innings only if he starts the game.

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239