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Friday, March 1, 2013
Outfield depth emerges as biggest concern

By Mark Saxon

The Dodgers play two Cactus League games Friday and won't send a single starting outfielder onto the field.

Carl Crawford has been shut down for at least a week with nerve pain near his surgically repaired left elbow, "challenging" opening day, in the words of manager Don Mattingly. Matt Kemp (shoulder) is just easing into the spring, playing his first game, at designated hitter. Andre Ethier was scratched, probably for just a day or two, by a callus problem on his right palm he has been dealing with since last August.

None if the injuries themselves is a three-alarm concern, though Crawford's long-term health seems a bit tenuous given his history of wrist ailments on top of the elbow issue. What they do, collectively, is expose the team's lack of outfield depth.

What if Crawford misses two months? What if Kemp or Ethier misses time? What if two go down with overlapping injuries? Friday, the Dodgers starting outfielders included a 36-year old coming off hip surgery (Jerry Hairston Jr.), a Single-A prospect (Yasiel Puig), a fringey, 26-year-old prospect (Alex Castellanos) and three guys on minor-league deals (Alfredo Amezaga, Jeremy Moore and Tony Gwynn Jr.).

If Crawford isn't back in games in a week, look for general manager Ned Colletti to try to make a trade for an outfielder (if he's not already).