Carl Crawford leaves Dodgers’ game against Cincinnati with a sprained left ankle. Update.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford limps off the field after suffering a sprained left ankle in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. (Getty Images)

Carl Crawford sprained his left ankle in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ game against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night. The 32-year-old rolled the ankle on the turf while fielding Chris Heisey‘s double into the left-field corner. He had to be helped off the field by head athletic trainer Stan Conte and was replaced by Scott Van Slyke.

A picture of Crawford’s ankle as the injury occurred can be found here.

Update (11:15 p.m.): Crawford said he will be placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday.

“I think it’s going to take a while,” he said.

The injury is severe enough that Crawford entered the Dodgers’ clubhouse after the game in a wheelchair. He then limped into the showers and came back to his locker wearing a protective boot.
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Matt Kemp is out of the Dodgers’ starting lineup for the fifth straight game. When will he return?

Matt Kemp Don Mattingly

Matt Kemp wasn’t in the Dodgers’nstarting lineup for the fifth straight game Tuesday. (Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Don Mattingly and Matt Kemp had diverging opinions Monday about Kemp’s health, and that storyline isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

However, the gap between the two might be eased if Kemp gets penciled in to the starting lineup. For the fifth straight day, that didn’t happen. Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig are manning the three outfield positions against the Cincinnati Reds.

Kemp said he took fly balls in left field Tuesday afternoon. When asked how long, he replied “doesn’t matter.” He wasn’t smiling.

Even the usually affable Mattingly got a bit testy when pressed about Kemp’s situation.
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Matt Kemp and Don Mattingly are still at odds over the outfielder’s health.

Matt Kemp

Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who hasn’t started since May 22, insists that he’s healthy. (Getty Images)


Matt Kemp, who hasn’t started since Thursday and isn’t starting today, insists he’s healthy.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly isn’t so sure.

Therein lies the basis for a closed-door meeting Saturday between the two that didn’t thrill Kemp. Who would be thrilled to learn they’re being benched?

Asked Monday if the meeting was helpful or productive, Kemp said, “yeah, any meeting can be productive. He told me what he planned on doing. It is what it is.”

So what is the plan?
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Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford isn’t on the National League All-Star ballot.

Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford is batting .222/.231/.317 in 18 games this season. (Associated Press photo)

Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford has appeared in 18 games this season, more than all but six of his teammates. In 2009, he was the Most Valuable Player of the All-Star game.

This year, Crawford is not even on the ballot.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig are the three Dodgers outfielders represented on the ballot released this morning.

The rest of the Dodgers’ representatives followed a predictable order: Adrian Gonzalez (first base), Dee Gordon (second base), Hanley Ramirez (shortstop), Juan Uribe (third base) and A.J. Ellis (catcher).

The game will be played at Target Field in Minneapolis on July 15. Designated hitters are allowed for both leagues’ lineups at the All-Star game, and the Dodgers will have that luxury when they visit the Twins for an interleague series next week. There is a good chance that all four outfielders will be in the starting lineup then.

However, Crawford wasn’t on the list of eight names the Dodgers submitted to the league at the beginning of the season.

Voters are allowed to cast up to 25 ballots. Crawford can still be included on the ballot as a write-in candidate but his odds are especially slim. Crawford is batting .211 with a .231 on-base percentage, poor for any hitter — especially one who regularly bats first or second. He’s stolen four bases, but none since April 9.

All four outfielders are struggling at the plate by their own standards. Puig is hitting .254/.338/.437, Kemp .211/.297/.456 and Ethier .194/.247/.284.

Matt Kemp isn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup, but Don Mattingly says it wasn’t an easy call.

Below are the career statistics for the Dodgers’ outfielders against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. Who would you sit?

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS SH SF IBB HBP GDP missG
Andre Ethier 25 22 6 2 0 2 7 3 1 .273 .360 .636 .996 0 0 0 0 1
Matt Kemp 15 15 6 0 0 0 1 0 3 .400 .400 .400 .800 0 0 0 0 0
Yasiel Puig 6 6 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 .833 .833 1.333 2.167 0 0 0 0 1
Carl Crawford 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333 .333 .333 .667 0 0 0 0 0
Total 119 111 35 9 1 3 16 6 11 .315 .361 .495 .857 0 0 1 2 7

Unfortunately, your answer doesn’t count because you don’t fill out the lineup card. Don Mattingly does, and he chose to bench Matt Kemp. The question of why led Mattingly down a lengthy rabbit hole about the future of the Dodgers’ so-called “four outfielder problem.”

“Every day, this is really a bit of a problem for the most part,” Mattingly said. “This was not easy because Matt’s done pretty decent. So has Yasiel. All the guys I thought were pretty good. Just trying to do the best we can with it. … There will come a day when … where we’re going to put what we think is our best club.”

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Daily Distractions: Why Sunday’s sixth inning encouraged Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

Andre Ethier

Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez made outs in the sixth inning Sunday, but impressed Don Mattingly in the process. (John McCoy/Staff photographer)

The Dodgers hit four home runs Sunday against the San Francisco Giants, but that’s not what had Don Mattingly excited.

Hanley Ramirez can hit home runs. That’s no revelation. Even Matt Kemp, Mattingly said, had his power swing on display from the time he reported to camp, with his high follow-through leaving many pitching machines in Glendale, Arizona with stratospheric ERAs.

No, what had Mattingly excited was the sixth inning.

Ramirez led off with a double into the left-field corner. Adrian Gonzalez was next up, and he hit a ground ball directly into the Giants’ shift. First baseman Brandon Belt fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Matt Cain covering first base for the out. That didn’t matter to Mattingly, because Ramirez advanced to third base, then scored on a deeply hit sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

“That was a big run for us,” Mattingly said. “They cut it to 4-2 with a couple homers there. Hanley starts the inning with a double, Adrian gets him over with the ground ball, Andre gets him in. Sometimes last year we didn’t get that done very well. I was encouraged by that tonight.”

Indeed, the biggest complaint about the Dodgers’ offense for the first six weeks of 2013 was its lack of situational hitting. On June 14, the Dodgers were 10 games below .500 and averaging 3.5 runs per game. From June 15 on, they averaged 4.3 runs per game. The arrivals of Yasiel Puig and Ramirez were integral. They added two dimensions the offense lacked, speed and power. More importantly, they didn’t make as many outs as the men they replaced. By extension, the Dodgers had more runners on base and had more success moving them over. Their situational hitting improved.

The Dodgers might never have another inning like the sixth this season. But if it becomes a trend, that’s one less way a lineup full of superstars can fail to score.

Some bullet points for an International Beaver Day:
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Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp declares himself ‘ready to go.’

Matt Kemp

Matt Kemp returned to Dodger Stadium after playing his final minor-league spring training game Thursday. (Associated Press)

Matt Kemp was back at Dodger Stadium on Friday and he didn’t mince words.

“Rehab sucks,” he said. “Getting something to feel better, and it won’t feel better, just takes time. Some of these injuries I’ve had, it’s not rehabbing. It’s taking time.”

As often as he’s pledged not to play until he’s 100 percent healthy, Kemp’s patience is about to be tested in a new way. He underwent major surgery on the talus bone in his left ankle in October and wasn’t cleared to run or slide until his teammates had begun playing spring-training games.

Friday, Kemp said he’s healthy.

Again, not mincing words: “I’m not missing anything now. I’m ready to go.”

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Josh Beckett thrives, Matt Kemp struggles, in Dodgers’ latest minor-league spring training game.

Josh Beckett

Josh Beckett threw three shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs on March 15 before leaving with a right thumb contusion. (Associated Press photo)

Josh Beckett threw four mostly successful innings against the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A club at Camelback Ranch on Thursday. It was his first appearance since being pulled from a Cactus League start against the Chicago Cubs on March 15 with a contusion on his right thumb.

The right-hander allowed six hits and one earned run, walked one and struck out four. He threw 52 pitches, 39 for strikes. Beckett was said to have used his curveball well, a pitch that gave him trouble in his last start because of the thumb injury.

Playing in the same game, Matt Kemp continued his struggles at the plate as he returns from off-season ankle surgery. Kemp went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts. Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford was 3-for-3 with a home run and two hard singles to left field. He played five innings in left field and was caught stealing.

Brandon League pitched in a Double-A game at home against Cincinnati and allowed one home run in 1 ⅓ innings. League threw 18 pitches, 12 for strikes, walked none and struck out none.

Daily Distractions: Chad Billingsley’s best-case scenario is still in play.

Chad Billingsley

Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley still hasn’t thrown a cut fastball off a mound since having Tommy John surgery last year. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chad Billingsley sat at his locker at Camelback Ranch on Friday, demonstrating the difference between his slider and his cut fastball with an imaginary baseball.

One pitch involved a twisting motion that began with his fingers and shot up his forearm to his elbow. The other pitch did not — just a flicking motion with his wrist, nothing violent or severe.

Yet he’s been allowed to throw the former pitch, his slider. He still hasn’t thrown the latter, his cut fastball, and isn’t sure when he will. That’s the bad news.

The good news for Billingsley is that he can count on one hand the number of benchmarks still to cross off in his recovery from Tommy John surgery in April 2013. He still hasn’t thrown a cutter off a mound and he still hasn’t faced live hitting or pitched in a game.

Even that will change soon. The plan calls for Billingsley to throw to minor-league hitters at Camelback Ranch sometime next week, around the time the Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia. When he throws “depends on whether I get four or five days’ rest” after his next bullpen session Monday.

Billingsley reported no setbacks one day after throwing a 36-pitch bullpen session Thursday. He hasn’t had any major setbacks yet. The best-case, late-April/early-May return to the majors that Billingsley projected  at the start of camp is still in play.

Some bullet points for a Pi Day:
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Arizona Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 2: D-Backs’ ‘B’ team batters Dodgers.

The sticker shock of the quality of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ lineup quickly wore off, then reversed course.

With a lineup slim on quality major-league talent — Didi Gregorius batted third and Mike Jacobs, who’s played 20 major-league games since 2009, hit cleanup — the Diamondbacks scored nine runs in six innings en route to a win in their last meeting with the Dodgers before Opening Day.

Zack Greinke allowed three runs, Zach Lee allowed four (three were earned) and Chris Perez allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen. J.P. Howell, Chris Withrow, Kenley Jansen and minor-leaguer Romulo Sanchez combined to throw 3 ⅔ scoreless innings of relief.

A two-run double by Andre Ethier off Arizona right-hander Mike Lee accounted for the Dodgers’ scoring.