Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is encouraged by his rehab progress.

Ned Colletti, Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford feels like he’s ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery last August. For fans hoping to see him play extensively this spring, the feeling won’t be mutual.

The Dodgers outfielder said he is now throwing 25 times from 60 feet, 25 times from 70 feet and 25 times from 90 feet as part of his rehabilitation program. He’s able to swing a bat without pain. It’s getting easy to envision Crawford getting some at-bats at designated hitter in the near future, but playing the field still seems a ways off.

Tomorrow, when the Dodgers open their spring schedule against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch, will mark exactly six months since Crawford’s surgery. He won’t play in the game but said Friday that “I feel like I’m ahead of where I should be.”

Crawford said he still feels stiffness after he throws, but that was to be expected. Pitchers typically take 12-18 months to recover from the surgery, while the timeframe isn’t as long for position players. When the Dodgers acquired Crawford from the Boston Red Sox in a multiplayer swap last August, their most conservative estimates had Crawford back on the field by May.

Perhaps generously, he and Matt Kemp (labrum surgery) are still hoping to be back by opening day. How they progress in spring will determine whether or not that’s feasible.

“Just to get their feet wet, I’ll probably DH both of them a little bit — Carl more likely for a longer period of time,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Whenever … we can trust that he’s not going to get in the game and react, all of a sudden do something we don’t want him doing. Spin throw or something; all of a sudden we’ve got trouble.”

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.