Carl Crawford is playing his third straight game in left field tonight as the Dodgers visit the Kansas City Royals in Surprise.
The Dodgers didn’t want to pencil in Crawford as their Opening Day left fielder until he passed a threshhold for throwing distance, mentioned previously at 125 feet. He has passed that threshhold “and he’s still got five days of throwing,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly noted Monday. That’s great news for Crawford, who underwent Tommy John surgery just last August and was initially speculated to be out until May.
That’s not great news if you were hoping to see Yasiel Puig in left field come Opening Day.
“Puig’s talked about in different scenarios,” Mattingly said Monday.
“Not those scenarios.”
One hypothetical scenario that Mattingly indulged today was one in which Puig collided at full speed with center fielder Matt Kemp in pursuit of a fly ball hit to the left-center gap. Puig, who is listed as 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds, can probably do some damage to even someone of Kemp’s stature and the Dodgers don’t want to find out for sure — even if Puig is batting .527 with 29 hits, both the best of any player in spring training. His .509 on-base percentage leads all National League players, his .855 slugging percentage ranks second and his 19 runs scored rank third.
There is a certain recklessness to the 22-year-old’s game that goes beyond the numbers. He doesn’t round the bases as aggressively as he did when camp began. As Mattingly noted, “we think he’s smart. We think he learns quickly.”
But not quickly enough — still — to be in Los Angeles on Opening Day.
“There’s a lot of things you like and there’s a lot of things you know aren’t polished,” Mattingly said. “Can you live with both sides of the coin?”
Apparently there’s another side to the Puig coin. FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal explores it in depth here.