Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is more than happy to be back in his natural environment. The veteran is rehabbing with the Albuquerque Isotopes this weekend as he looks to return from a sprained left ankle that has kept him out over a month.
Crawford was chasing a flyball in a game against Cincinnati Reds on May 27 at Dodger Stadium when he took a wrong step at the warning track. His left ankle buckled and his foot bent awkwardly underneath him.
“When it first happened I didn’t think it was that bad, but when I looked down I saw the swelling,” Crawford said. “I knew I had a problem. I didn’t think it would last this long. It’s one of those things where it took a while to heal.”
Crawford played his first game since May when he started in left field for the Isotopes in the second game of their doubleheader Saturday night. He went 1-for-2 with a run scored before being pulled from the game after a 1-hour, 14-minute rain delay in the fourth inning.
“I felt great,” Crawford said. “I had to wait for that to come. I’ve been in Arizona for a while. I just wanted to get back out there and do baseball stuff again. It felt really good being around the guys and being back on the field again.”
Crawford got to test the ankle more than once. In the first inning he had to make a leaping catch on the warning track to rob Allan Dykstra of an extra-base hit.
“I didn’t think it would carry like that,” Crawford said of the flyball. “Luckily I was able to catch it and that, too, was another time where I was able to test the ankle right out of the box.”
In the bottom of the frame Crawford lined a single to left field. Jamie Romak followed with a single up the middle and Crawford was able to race from first to third with no problem.
“Definitely, that was the ultimate test there,” Crawford said. “I would have liked to steal a base, maybe I’ll try to do that tonight. For the most part, going first to third I felt was really good.”
Crawford said he only expects to be with the Isotopes for three games, contrary to the five or six games that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. However long Crawford is in Albuquerque, it will be about more than just making sure his ankle is fine, it will also be making sure his timing is back at the plate so he can help the Dodgers right away.
“It’s really important because you’re going to a team that’s in first place,” Crawford said. “You want to make sure your game is sharp and that you can help out in ways the team needs you. So you don’t want to go up there and be off a little bit. You want to be as sharp and play as well as you can when you get up there.”
Crawford will again play left field and bat second for the Isotopes in the series finale against the 51s at 6:05 p.m. Sunday. He will be tested against New York Mets No. 1 prospect Noah Syndergaard.