Don Mattingly gave a status update on Carl Crawford’s return Monday, saying that the team has “started talking about, thinking about” his rehab assignment. Quite the vague timetable, but he seemed optimistic about Crawford’s chances of joining the club in the middle of the next road trip.
Crawford has not played in a game with the Dodgers since June 1st in Colorado.
With the return of Crawford looming the big question remains, what will the Dodgers do with four starting outfielders, making a combined $57 million in 2013.
It is not like they can just sit Yasiel Puig -- who makes $3.7 million compared to the eight-figure salaries of the other outfielders -- because he has been the best player on the team in the last month.
In the last two games, Puig and Andre Ethier have started in left field, which is normally Crawford’s position, because the Dodgers are preparing to have a more fluid outfield when he Crawford returns.
Don Mattingly is prepared to use Puig and Ethier at all three outfield positions, to give time off to Crawford and Kemp who need the rest to avoid future hamstring issues.
"Obviously Carl has had his share of leg problems,” Mattingly said. "It seems like every three days it kinda seems like he could use a day in there.”
He also mentioned possibly platooning Ethier with Puig: “giving (Ethier) a day against a tough lefty” or even “playing (Ethier) in center and giving Matt (Kemp) a day off against a tough righty.”
It is going to be a shuffle, but Mattingly is used to that this season having used 73 different lineups in 77 games.
"There is a way to give everybody a number of at bats but not necessarily an equal amount,” he said.
Every night is going to have different matchups, and Mattingly’s goal is "trying to put out the best lineup" every night.
With Crawford back the Dodgers will be at full health with position players, fortifying an already intimidating lineup and providing depth in the outfield with four superstars looking for playing time.
The Dodgers are on a six-game winning streak, and face Philadelphia on Friday night.