- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES – A couple of weeks ago, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly declared Andre Ethier his starting left fielder even when the Opening Day starter, Carl Crawford, returns from an injury that has kept him out since the early weeks of the season.
Crawford, who was in Arizona and just days away from starting his minor-league rehab stint at the time, said he read Mattingly’s comments and didn’t have a problem with them.
“There’s nothing you can say to that,” Crawford said. “Dre’s been playing really well. If the shoe was on the other foot, Dre would support me. I support him. That’s what’s best for the team and that’s what we have to do. When it’s my turn, it’s my turn.”
Mattingly said nothing has changed despite a fairly lengthy slump for Ethier, who was batting .309 when June began but hit .214 in the month. Crawford is scheduled to fly to Oklahoma City on Saturday and play in his first game there on Sunday. He said he’s hoping to return to the Dodgers before the All-Star break, but Mattingly said that’s unlikely.
“I shouldn’t say it’s impossible, but he’s been out for a while and hasn’t played that much,” Mattingly said. “We’ll just see. If he’s swinging the bat well, playing good, it’s a possibility, but it’s not really part of the plan right now.”
Crawford shortened his rehab outing for Class A Rancho Cucamonga because he was hit in the left ankle with a pitch. He has been out of the Dodgers' lineup since April 27 with a torn oblique muscle. Splitting time in the outfield might prove difficult when Crawford returns because Yasiel Puig rarely needs days off and the other two starters, Ethier and Joc Pederson, bat left-handed, as does Crawford.
Crawford’s return could allow the Dodgers to explore trades involving Ethier again. There was a rumor last month of talks involving Ethier and Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson, but those apparently didn't go far.
2hZach Mariner and Marty Callinan, ESPN Stats & Info