Carl Crawford Sidelined with Torn Oblique; Dodgers’ Outfield Depth Paying Off

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is heading to the disabled list after tearing an oblique muscle swinging the bat in the bottom of the second inning last night. The swing produced a triple, but it also sent the snakebitten speedster to the disabled list with the latest in a five-year string of injuries.

To replace Crawford on the active roster, the Dodgers have called up Enrique “Kiké” Hernandez from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Hernandez, who was acquired from the Marlins in the offseason deal that sent Dee Gordon and Dan Haren to Miami, had a great spring for the Dodgers in Arizona, but he was bumped off the roster because of the Dodgers’ crowded outfield and the presence of Alex Guerrero, who could not be sent to the minors without his permission. Hernandez plays solid defense all over the infield and outfield, and he packs a mighty wallop in his 5’11”, 200-pound frame.

With Crawford joining Yasiel Puig on the disabled list, Andre Ethier is now firmly entrenched in the starting role he has been accustomed to throughout his career. While Ethier was never thrilled with being a bench player, it made sense for the Dodgers to keep a solid alternative in case of an injury to one or more of the starters. With Crawford’s history of injuries, Puig’s reckless play, and rookie Joc Pederson‘s unproven big league track record, Ethier’s experience off the bench was extremely valuable to a team with World Series aspirations.

With a temporary starting outfield of Ethier, Pederson, and Scott Van Slyke, the Dodgers now have a roster with no true outfielder on the bench. Hernandez and Guerrero can both play either infield or outfield, albeit with different levels of defensive skill, but this may be the opening needed to get the hot-hitting Guerrero into the starting lineup.

Having an $18-million outfielder on the bench is not a luxury most teams can afford, but it is paying off for the Dodgers in this case.

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