Carl Crawford returns as Dodgers’ DH, leadoff hitter.

CarlxCrawfordIn case you missed it, I wrote about Carl Crawford‘s return to the Dodgers yesterday. It was an emotional one. He’ll be back in the lineup today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Camelback Ranch, leading off as the designated hitter. He’s expected to do the same tomorrow against the A’s. Crawford said Monday morning that he’s still pain-free in his surgically repaired left elbow.

As sometimes happens, there wasn’t room in the paper for everything I wrote. Here’s what you missed:

Even though he played 31 games last season for the Boston Red Sox in between injuries to his elbow and wrist, Crawford said “it really was like I wasn’t there.” His 2012 season officially ended Aug. 23, when he underwent ligament replacement surgery on the elbow.

Initial estimates had Crawford returning as late as May this year, but that was before he was traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers, and before his new team got a glimpse of how aggressive the rehabilitation process would play out. Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis called Crawford’s return “a great lift.”

Juan Pierre has the same tenacity, as far as his work ethic,” Ellis said. “It’s rare.”

Crawford’s perseverance came with an unexpected reward.

“You have something taken away from you that you like to do for so long,” he said, “you have a different appreciation for it.”

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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.