Dodgers’ Jerry Hairston Jr. returns to the field without incident.

Jerry Hairston Jr.

Veteran utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr. knows his place on the Dodgers’ roster. Saturday, a reporter asked him to compare his quick return to the field to teammates Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, who are still waiting to get clearance to play after having surgery last year.

“You’ve got more to lose with Matty and Carl than me,” Hairston deadpanned.

Hairston had left hip labrum surgery six months ago, a procedure that ended his 2012 season in August. He started in left field Saturday against the Chicago White Sox and played five innings — no small feat considering the unique nature of his surgery, a process that involves removing the leg from its socket. Hairston said that rebuilding strength in the leg is the most painstaking part recovery.

For six hours every day for two months, Hairston’s leg was stuck in a machine called a CPM (continuous passive motion) device, which automatically moves the leg back and forth while the patient lies on his back.

“The first month was pretty tough — the pain, lying in bed,” he said. “You picture yourself playing again. That helps you realize there’s a goal. It helps you continue to fight through it.”

The 36-year-old had some opportunities to range around in the field during the Dodgers’ Cactus League opener. As has been the case throughout the spring, he looked like he did before the injury. Hairston will also see time in right field, first base and third base, manager Don Mattingly said.

“I’m a little sore,” Hairston said after the game. “My whole body is sore though.”

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This entry was posted in JP on the Dodgers, Spring Training and tagged , , , by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

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.