Crawford shut down with nerve irritation

Nothing like turning a smile upside down in a hurry.

Just as the Dodgers were letting themselves get happy Friday over Matt Kemp’s first appearance in a game this spring, news came that the “pause” in Carl Crawford’s comeback was now an official setback.

Manager Don Mattingly told reporters in Phoenix that Crawford was being shut down for a week because of nerve irritation following his Tommy John elbow surgery and that it challenged his being available by Opening Day.

This is what you call bad news, even if not all that surprising, and underscores the team’s lack of a designated fourth outfielder.

If Crawford cannot go by the opener, then right now the Dodgers are likely looking at a left-fielder by committee. And Crawford was scheduled to be the team’s main leadoff hitter.

Mattingly said Crawford will not hit or throw for at least a week, and be on anti-inflammatory medication. He had his ligament transfer surgery last August, so this is not a player who doesn’t need spring training to prove ready by Opening Day.

“I think it challenges Opening Day a little bit,” Mattingly said. “[But] I don’t think it’s out of the question.”

Mattingly said the nerve irritation does not specifically involve the left elbow ligament and was not uncommon for someone coming off Tommy John surgery.

“It’s something that they want to calm down totally,” Mattingly said. “It doesn’t seem to be any kind of panic with Carl. More just still being cautious. Obviously, you have to look at this as being a little bit more of a setback.”

Crawford is still owed $107.7 million over the next five seasons, so there’s more at stake here than simply having him ready by the opener. That was, however, the original plan.

“Opening Day would be great,” Mattingly said. “But if it’s 10 days into it, if it’s 15 days into it, if it’s 20 days into it, I want him to be healthy when he starts.”

Meanwhile, Kemp made his first appearance in a spring game as the designated hitter, going 0 for 2 with a called strikeout and groundout. He’s coming off off-season shoulder surgery.

And, sticking with the recovering outfielder theme, Andre Ethier was scratched from the lineup Friday because the blister on the palm of his right hand, the same one that dogged him during the stretch last season, has resurfaced.

Mattingly said it was more precautionary stuff and Ethier could go if needed, but it has to be a tad troubling to re-emerge so quickly.

Veteran ballplayer
More than 80 prospective players — including a former professional pitcher from Japan — performed for Dodgers scouts at an open tryout Thursday. And though many of them were better than Daniel “Doc” Jacobs, none are braver than the Iraq war veteran.

Jacobs, a former high school infielder who passed up offers to play in college to join the military, lost his leg below the knee and suffered serious hand and foot injuries when a improvised explosive device detonated beneath him in 2006. But at the invitation of Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, the 27-year-old Jacobs tried out for the Dodgers anyway, then threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the team’s Cactus League win over the Angels.

Dandy Sandy
Thursday was Sandy Koufax’s last day in camp and Clayton Kershaw was among those sorry to see him leave.

“He’s great,” Kershaw said of the Dodgers legend, who served as special spring-training instructor. “I have so much respect for him. And I just love talking to him. I hope we get to see him sometime in the future.”

-Steve Dilbeck
Kevin Baxter contributed to this report