- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford is experiencing nerve irritation in the area of his surgically repaired left elbow and has been shut down from throwing or hitting for at least a week, jeopardizing his chances of being ready by Opening Day.
Crawford said it wasn't a pain he felt in his elbow, but more of tightness and soreness.
"It's frustrating, because personally I've been so anxious to get back out there," Crawford said. "But my time will come."
Crawford flew back to Los Angeles on Thursday night to be examined by the team doctor, and according to the Dodgers, the repaired ligament remains sound. Crawford had Tommy John surgery in August, days before he was traded from the Boston Red Sox with Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.
The Dodgers had hoped Crawford would be in left field on April 1 when they open the season against the San Francisco Giants. Now they are less hopeful.
"Opening Day would be great, but as I've told him, if it's 10 days into it, if it's 15 days into it, if it's 20 days into it, I want him to be healthy when it starts," manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers don't have many in-house replacements if Crawford is lost for a significant stretch of games. The primary backup, Jerry Hairston Jr., will turn 37 in May and is coming off hip surgery. Tony Gwynn Jr. and Alex Castellanos will compete this spring for a backup role. The team's top outfield prospect, Yasiel Puig, finished last season at Class A.
Center fielder Matt Kemp, who is coming off October shoulder surgery, is on schedule for Opening Day. Kemp was set to be in the Dodgers' lineup at designated hitter to make his spring debut Friday.
"There's still another gear of energy that you can't simulate on a back field," Mattingly said. "Hopefully Matt comes out of this fine, and everybody's confident he will."